Tag Archives: IBS

CBT and long-term health conditions

19 Mar

Although Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions, another important way CBT can be used is to treat people with long-term health conditions, such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Although these are physical complaints and CBT cannot cure them, it can be very successful with helping people cope with their symptoms. As CBT is a practical therapy, it can focus on particular specific problems. These strategies can then be used for a lifetime. CBT can also be used alongside medication if the condition is severe. If used with hypnosis i.e. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), for some people, the combination can also be extremely effective.

It is well established that hypnosis, for IBS, is an effective treatment.

Any harmful, unhelpful thoughts which may trigger health problems, or make them worse are identified. The aim is then to change the ways of thinking to avoid these ideas. A certain amount of dedication and persistence by the individual is required to achieve optimum results.

shutterstock_83348110 calming

In the case of IBS, CBT and CBH usually involve teaching the individual specific strategies for calming the body and reducing their anxiety. They learn to cope with the unpleasant symptoms of IBS and to be able to face the difficult situations in life that can cause stress and trigger an attack of IBS. This can involve people monitoring which foods impacts negatively on their condition. They would note how they felt while eating, anxious, happy, relaxed, stressed etc to see if they can see a pattern emerging.

CBT combined with medical treatment has been shown to be more effective than medical treatment alone in reducing IBS symptoms.

CBT has also been shown to significantly improve sleep and reduce pain in arthritis sufferers.

People learn how to control their pain. This can be through diverting their attention and practicing relaxation techniques. The reduction in pain enables them to enjoy a more active lifestyle and this improvement in their quality of life can be maintained. They also find after their course of CBT they are less depressed and have more energy.

A big responsibility is for the client to carry out the work required themself. Literature such as our book ‘Visual CBT’, written by the founders of the College, can be very helpful, as it has been designed to help anybody apply Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to change their life, in a very visual way, using imagery and illustrations. This visual approach makes the CBT very clear and easy to follow.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

5 Oct

Guest Post by Moya Layton

Irritable Bowel Syndrome commonly referred to as IBS, is a widespread and distressing functional bowel disorder, which carries a considerable burden both for sufferers and the medical profession alike. About two in 10 people in the UK have IBS and it’s twice as common in women as men. Although not life-threatening, IBS can be extremely debilitating for those people who suffer from it. The pathophysiology of IBS is uncertain and currently no single cause explains the condition, which is characterized more by symptoms, suffering and disability than by any demonstrable organic abnormality.

IBS can develop at any age, but most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 35. Symptoms may come and go and you may not have any symptoms for months and then experience a sudden flare-up. Common symptoms include, abdominal pain, feeling sick, indigestion, headache, backache, combined with an altered bowel habit that can be either constipation or diarrhoea predominant or a mixture of the two.

Although specific IBS symptoms may respond to certain medications unfortunately to date no single medication or class of medications has been demonstrated to be consistently successful in relieving the full spectrum of IBS symptoms. Traditional treatments for IBS include dietary therapy, antispasmodic medication and antidepressants; however it is important to note that only 25% of people who suffer with IBS symptoms respond to these traditional treatments methods.

A new understanding of IBS

Currently IBS being redefined as a disorder of brain gut dysfunction that does not fit into a specific psychiatric or medical condition. Doctors therefore are now moving from the disease-based model to a biopsychosocial understanding of this disorder. This model proposes that biological, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviours), and social factors interact to play a significant role in the initiation and perpetuation of the disease or illness.

Cognitive Behavioural hypnotherapy combines hypnotherapy, clinically proven to relieve symptoms, and cognitive behavioural techniques, to directly address the maladaptive thought processes and behaviours that emerge from and perpetuate IBS. This therapy approach exemplifies this biopsychosocial

Hypnotherapy for IBS is widely recognised as one of the success stories. Response rates to treatment have been identified as 80% or more in most published trials with evidence suggesting that individuals who respond to hypnosis treatment for IBS can generally look forward to years of reduced bowel symptoms.

It has been also been identified that many people with IBS frequently suffer from anxiety and depression and worry excessively about their illness and symptoms. The combination of cognitive behavioural techniques with hypnosis therefore allows the client to directly focus on changing these maladaptive thinking patterns. Clients learn how to modify their beliefs about illness, chronic pain and discomfort. They also learn how to challenge the catastrophic thought processes they may be experiencing about the social and occupational consequences of their gastrointestinal symptoms. This allows them to change their morbid pessimism about their condition and any perceived helplessness about their ability to cope with this disorder.

If you already work with clients who suffer from IBS or wish to see clients who present with IBS or are simply interested in the subject then the Moya Layton CCBH Master Class on IBS is for you.

IBS is a complex and multifaceted disorder and the effective use of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy will teach you how you develop a well-established effective therapy programme for your client. This therapy not only addresses the IBS symptoms themselves, but also challenges the distorted dysfunctional thinking patterns that underpin and perpetuate this chronic and distressing disorder allowing clients to understand that they can finally gain control over their symptoms.


IBS is a complex disorder