Psychological Services

As part of our unique multi-disciplinary, patient-centered clinical approach our clinical program also provides integrated Psychological Services. When the medical evaluation of a patient visiting the Functional GI and Motility Disorders Clinic suggests that psychological evaluation, advice and/or intervention may be beneficial for an individual patient, a psychological consultation is offered and may be brought into the patient’s care.

The psychological services are provided by Dr. Cara O'Connell-Edwards - a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. O'Connell-Edwards specializes in the treatment of patients with chronic gastrointestinal illnesses and provide the following psychological techniques or therapies in collaboration with the patient’s other healthcare providers:

  • Stress Management: Stress management therapy seeks to help a person understand the role of stress in his/her life and how it relates to the person’s FGID symptoms. It also seeks to provide the patient with a variety of ways for dealing with stressful events in ways that minimize their impact on the person’s FGID symptoms and quality of life.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on the interrelationship between a patient’s thoughts (cognitions), actions (behaviors) and feelings (affect), and the role they play in their FGID symptoms. A common example is to beat the “vicious cycle” that occurs when chronic severe symptoms lead to psychological distress which, in turn, worsens the symptoms. By understanding and focusing on the psychological components of the “brain-gut axis”, changes can be made in how a patient thinks, acts and feels about his/her GI difficulties, and thereby help reduce the frequency and intensity of FGID symptoms.
  • Relaxation Therapy: Relaxation therapies to reduce a person’s current state of physical and psychological activation include progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), autogenic training, breath regulation, and meditation. With these techniques, a person can learn how to “turn down the volume” on their GI symptoms by becoming more calm and relaxed about them.

Referral of patients to psychological services is done through the Functional GI and Motility Disorders Clinic