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Somerset Hunterdon Warren Psychological Association

"CBT For GI Disorders: They're More Common Than You Think!"

  • Friday, January 26, 2024
  • 8:45 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Live Zoom Webinar


Registration is closed

Somerset, Hunterdon, & Warren Psychological Association (SHWPA)

Melissa G. Hunt, Ph.D.


“CBT for GI Disorders:

They’re More Common Than You Think!”

Friday, January 26, 2024

8:45 Welcome, Program 9 AM – 11 AM

Live Zoom Webinar / 2 Continuing Education Credits

Melissa G. Hunt is a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Fellow and Diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and a member of the Rome Foundation Psychogastroenterology working group.

Dr. Hunt conducts research on the best approaches for stress management, and into the causes and treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and chronic GI disorders. As a clinical scientist, her emphasis is on translating basic psychological science into treatments that are effective, acceptable, and accessible to patient populations. Her work focuses on identifying the underlying patient factors (e.g. unhelpful beliefs and maladaptive avoidance) that lead to reduced quality of life, impairment and distress, particularly factors that exacerbate chronic health problems and make them harder to cope with, and on developing and disseminating evidence based, empirically supported treatments for folks with GI disorders. In addition to her research, she maintains an active private practice in clinical psychology in which she specializes in cognitive-behavioral treatment with patients with chronic GI disorders, as well as co-morbid mood, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma disorders. She is the author of two evidence-based, empirically supported self-help books that make CBT accessible to patients with IBS and IBDs,

as a well as a forthcoming treatment manual on CBT for IBD patients. She has also published numerous research papers, including a number of RCTs testing the efficacy of self-help treatments for patients with GI disorders.

Overview of Program:

Gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds are exacerbated by stress and are also stressful. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a highly prevalent (approximately 10% of the general population but up to 30% of psychiatric treatment seeking individuals) disorder of gut-brain (or central-enteric)

interaction that is highly co-morbid with anxiety disorders and depression and shares conceptual overlap with panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety and ARFID. It also leads to

considerable disability and distress. Managing these patients effectively requires a good conceptual understanding of the biopsychosocial and cognitive underpinnings of IBS as well as the kinds of avoidance behaviors (both obvious and subtle) that maintain and often exacerbate both symptoms and disability. General CBT skills are essential, but incorporating GI specific phenomena (like bowel control anxiety and fear of food) are also important. There is significant empirical evidence supporting the use of CBT in treating IBS, including multiple RCTs.

The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis, have clear biological pathophysiology, but share some of the same symptoms and can lead to heightened risk for secondary IBS in a subset of patients. In addition, many IBD patients experience shame, avoidance and social anxiety about their condition.

This workshop will cover what is known about the etiology and symptoms of IBS, how IBS patients present in clinical practice; IBS in the context of co-morbid panic and agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, ARFID and depression; formulating appropriate treatment goals and basic cognitive and behavioral strategies for treating IBS, including IBS that is comorbid or secondary to a more serious IBD. Case material reflecting patients along a spectrum of severity will provide for lively discussion and acquisition of new skills and techniques. Audience participation, clinical questions and role-playing will be welcomed, leading to interactive, experiential, in-depth training. Application of evidence-based psychotherapies to chronic GI disorders is now referred to as psychogastroenterology. Unfortunately, there are very few providers trained in GI informed psychotherapy. We desperately need more skilled clinicians to treat this large and underserved population. ADAA’s membership is an obvious target audience, since they bring solid CBT skills and need only acquire an understanding of GI specifics.

Learning Objectives:

  1. What therapists need to know about the etiology, prevalence, symptoms, complications and medical treatment options of both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in order to work effectively with these patients.

  2. How to develop a case conceptualization that integrates GI disorders with any co-morbid mood or anxiety disorders, including the unique cognitive distortions and behavioral avoidance strategies (especially fear of incontinence and dietary restrictions) that tend to maintain and exacerbate distress and disability in GI disorders.

3) How to modify the standard CBT approach to anxiety disorders to treat GI patients effectively, including collaborating successfully with gastroenterologists and considerations about medication.

Instruction Level: Intermediate

ADA Accommodations available upon written request by emailing, no later than Tuesday November 28, 2023

SHWPA Program Fee: SHWPA Member $55, Non SHWPA Member $65, Students $15. Online registration and payment can be made at, OR by mailing a check payable to SHWPA and mailed to Tracy Menzie P.O. Box 644 Lebanon, NJ 08833. Please note – registration for this program will close on Monday January 22, 2024.

NJPA Continuing Education Credits/Administrative Fee for 2 credits (a separate fee paid to NJPA), paid online after the completion of the program. NJPA Administrative Fees: Sustaining Member – Free, NJPA Member $15, Non-NJPA Member - $25. The NJPA LINK will be provided to registrants during the program.

Contact: Virginia Walters, Psy.D., SHWPA Program Chair -

This workshop is co-sponsored by NJPA and SHWPA. NJPA is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. NJPA maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

The Somerset Hunterdon Psychological Association. All Rights Reserved. 

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