Rome Psychogastroenterology Section

Aim: To provide, with the support/endorsement of the Rome Foundation, the structure and opportunity for growth among the increasing population of mental health professionals with interest and experience in evidence-based practice of psychogastroenterology.

Rationale: It has been well-established that psychological factors and brain-gut dysregulation play a critical role in the development and maintenance of functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. The efficacy of brain-gut therapies including gut-directed hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and mindfulness based stress reduction and more recent data supporting exposure-based CBT therapies, acceptance based therapies and internet-based treatments has resulted in an increased need for psychologists to integrate evidence-based brain-gut therapies within GI practice settings.

There is currently no organization or society dedicated to the training, quality improvement or promotion of psychogastroenterology research or practice, limiting the growth and advancement of our field. Many psychologists are actively involved in psychosocial GI research or practice, but are pursuing these efforts relatively independently. Furthermore, there are no resources for institutions wishing to develop a psychosocial GI program or for gastroenterologists interested in referring to behavioral providers with this expertise.

We wish to create an internationally-based psychogastroenterology working group to fill this gap. Having a central organization specifically dedicated to psychosocial GI will advance the field by encouraging clinical and research collaboration and increasing the visibility of behavioral providers in GI. This will promote the use of evidence-based behavioral treatments for patients with GI disorders and ultimately improve patient care.

History and current activity: Drs. Keefer and Kinsinger are academic clinical health psychologists with extensive experience in the development of integrated psychosocial GI practices within academic medical centers. Over the years they have been called upon to provide consultation and supervision to therapists and physicians interested in offering behavioral treatments for GI patients. While working together at Northwestern’s Center for Psychosocial Research in GI, Drs. Keefer and Kinsinger founded the Training Institute, a program dedicated to training providers across a wide range of topics related to psychosocial aspects of GI disorders. There has been growing interest in these workshops and the Institute contributed to the development of several integrated psychosocial GI programs across the country and we would be happy to continue/improve our training program with the support of the Rome Foundation. We have also found that behavioral experts working with GI populations have interest in connecting with others and we have created a listserv for this purpose with 32 members participating. We hope that establishing a special interest group within the ROME foundation will allow us to continue with these efforts as well as pursue new initiatives to promote high quality clinical care and research related to psychosocial GI.

The objectives of this working team will be to:

  • Promote the use of evidence-based behavioral treatments for GI disorders internationally
  • Encourage development of interdisciplinary psychosocial GI programs in gastroenterology practices through expert consultation and lectureships
  • Connect with national and international GI organizations to enhance the visibility of psychosocial GI providers and encourage collaboration
  • Expand our field into previously under-studied areas of psychogastroenterology, including inflammatory bowel diseases, pancreatitis and other biopsychosocially complex digestive conditions.

Working Group Activities:

  1. Provide training opportunities for psychologists wishing to work with this population
    • Conduct annual GI Psych training workshops at DDW and 1 additional [European?} society meeting
    • Host Live and Recorded Webinars through the ROME foundation website on a range of topics related to psychosocial GI (e.g., Introduction to GI Psychology, GI Physiology for the Psychologist, Behavioral Techniques in Functional GI disorders, Growing a GI Psychology Program, Common Psychotropics)
    • Consider Rome-sponsored “Visiting Psych Fellows” who can shadow psychogastroenterology experts in their practices or labs around the world.
  2. Offer consultation, workshops, and webinars for gastroenterologists and administrators interested in developing an integrated GI behavioral program at their institution
  3. Facilitate quarterly telemedicine case conferences
  4. Obtain continuing education approval from the American Psychological Association for training workshops, webinars, and case conferences
  5. Continue and grow the established psychosocial GI listserv to encourage clinical collaboration and case consultation
  6. Develop a comprehensive, searchable provider directory for gastroenterologists wishing to refer to a GI psychologist or psychiatrist

Team members:
Laurie Keefer, PhD, Rome Foundation Fellow, Chair
Sarah Kinsinger, PhD, ABPP, Co-Chair
Douglas A. Drossman, MD (liaison to ROME foundation board)

Simon Knowles, PhD
Sigrid Elsenbruch, PhD
Brjánn Ljótsson, PhD
Tiffany Taft, PsyD
Sarah Ballou, PhD

Laurie Keefer, PhD

Laurie Keefer, PhD

Sarah Kinsinger, PhD, ABPP

Sarah Kinsinger, PhD, ABPP