At Henry Ford Health, our dedicated gastrointestinal (GI) health psychologist gives you the tools and strategies you need to live a better quality of life – in body and mind. We offer a range of evidence-based treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and gut-directed hypnotherapy, to help you manage GI disorders and improve your digestive health.
What is the gut-brain connection?
You may have heard your gut called the “second brain.” That’s because your gastrointestinal tract contains an extensive system of nerve cells (over 100 million) that constantly sends signals back and forth to your brain. This system, called the enteric nervous system, plays a vital role in digestive health.
For example, chronic stress sends distress signals to the nerves in your gut. These nerves sound alarm bells that affect the way your GI system functions. So stress can lead to symptoms like bloating, constipation, acid reflux and diarrhea.
And this feedback loop works the other way, too. Gastrointestinal irritation or upset sends distress signals to your brain. As a result, problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression or insomnia can develop or worsen. For many people, it can feel like an inescapable cycle. But with the right treatments and therapies, you can break this cycle and find relief.
GI psychology services: Why choose Henry Ford?
Our multispecialty team works together to provide personalized care and life-changing results. At Henry Ford Health, you’ll find:
- Expertise: Our team includes a full-time GI health psychologist with a doctoral degree and advanced training. This provider has specialized knowledge in the latest evidence-based strategies to help you manage gastrointestinal conditions.
- Collaborative approach: You receive the coordinated input of experts in GI health psychology, gastroenterology and nutrition. We can also refer you to specialists in sleep medicine, pain management, behavioral health or integrative medicine.
- Personalized attention: Our experts take the time to understand how GI conditions affect your life. Whether you’re dealing with mental or physical symptoms, we make a plan to help you feel better.
- Convenience: Our GI psychology services are 100% virtual at this time. No matter where you are in Michigan, you can get individualized care from the comfort and privacy of your home with scheduled video visits.
Conditions we treat
Health psychology can help you manage many digestive disorders, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Other GI conditions
Our gastrointestinal psychology services
Gastrointestinal psychology is a short-term therapy that teaches strategies for long-term symptom management. These therapies work alongside other treatments, such as dietary modifications and medication, to relieve symptoms, manage chronic illness and restore digestive health.
Your GI psychologist does a thorough assessment of your current well-being, history and GI challenges. We build a complete picture of your overall health and work with you to outline clear goals for treatment. A multispecialty team works together to ensure you receive comprehensive care.
Your care plan may include:
- Stress management and coping strategies
- Diet and lifestyle modifications
- Goal-focused psychotherapy
We may recommend gut-directed hypnotherapy for IBS, IBD and other GI disorders. Hypnosis is an evidence-based intervention that has a positive impact on the brain-gut communication and interraction.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a way to change thoughts, emotions and behaviors contributing to or resulting from GI problems. We provide coping strategies to help you control as much about your condition as possible, such as triggers that can worsen symptoms.
Take the next step
To connect with our gastrointestinal psychologist, ask your Henry Ford Health gastroenterologist for a referral.