Stress can negatively impact our physical and mental health, and our gastrointestinal tract is one of the first systems in our bodies to experience the consequences of stress.

Some people have particularly sensitive intestinal systems and/or have developed a disease like ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Living with chronic and unpredictable GI symptoms can be stressful and affect work, relationships and our overall quality of life. Psychological interventions, such as hypnosis, that address stress, lifestyle factors and, in many cases, gastrointestinal symptoms directly, can prove helpful in improving our physical health and mental well-being.

How hypnosis works

Hypnosis is a state of consciousness resembling sleep. Your mind is in an altered, relaxed state. When under hypnosis, however, you can still concentrate on memories, sensations and other things. Hypnosis is used to control bad habits, pain, stress and many other health conditions.

The Gastrointestinal (GI) Health Psychology Service is fully integrated into the Northwestern Medicine Department of Medicine and Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The service is staffed1 by psychologists and health psychology trainees with specialized training in digestive diseases, who will work directly with your gastroenterologist to coordinate your care.

All of our therapists are trained in hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy. These psychological interventions have proven efficacy in a number of well-controlled clinical trials and are widely accepted as the most effective psychological interventions for GI conditions. Services include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy: This evidence-based intervention for functional bowel disorders can be used safely and comfortably with excellent results in a variety of patients
  • Relaxation training
  • Coping with a chronic illness
  • Education sessions for newly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease patients
  • Assistance with weight loss
  • Psychological evaluations for bariatric surgery

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