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The Brain-Gut Connection: Evidence-Based Psychological Strategies for Treatment of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

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Many clients presenting to mental health providers experience gastrointestinal symptoms including chronic pain, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis), and feeding concerns including avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).  Children, adolescents, and young adults with chronic GI problems often miss school, have greater healthcare utilization, and have parents who miss more workdays; they also have higher rates of depression and anxiety than youth with other chronic diseases.  Many gastroenterologists routinely refer patients for mental health services, and while mental health providers may be well-versed in treating mental health concerns they may be less familiar with the application of psychological interventions for specific GI symptoms.

This skills-focused workshop will educate mental health providers on the most recent research about the brain-gut connection and outline evidence-based treatments for clients presenting with a variety of GI symptoms.  Using lecture, clinical examples, and skill-building activities this virtual workshop will equip clinicians to work with clients to improve quality of life and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.

Course Format

This three-day virtual workshop will equip clinicians to work with clients to improve their quality of life and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms using lectures, clinical examples, and skill-building activities. 

Participants may register for the full 3-day workshop (All levels), just the Beginner/Intermediate (Days 1 & 2), or just Advanced Psychogastroenterology (Day 3) session. If registering for only the Advanced course, participants should have previously completed the Beginner/Intermediate course (last offered in 2021) and/or have two years of experience working with GI patients. 

Course Content Includes: 

  •  Introduction to GI Psychology 
  • Overview of GI Physiology and Common Testing & Procedures
  • Explaining the Brain-Gut Connection: Language and Metaphors
  • Assessment & Case Conceptualization 
  • Feedback, Treatment Planning, and Implementation
  • Implementing Interventions for GI Disorders
  • All new Advanced Psychogastroenterology Workshop

Who Should Attend?

  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors
  • Trainees


Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize GI physiology and basic pathophysiology of Disorders of the Brain-Gut Interaction (DGBI).
  2. Recognize commonly diagnosed pediatric gastrointestinal conditions and describe the biopsychosocial conceptualization and treatment model for these disorders.
  3. Apply evidence-based psychological treatments for the management of GI-related symptoms.
  4. Recall specific GI-focused questions that can be incorporated into the psychological assessment process and the language/metaphors to utilize when discussing the biopsychosocial treatment approach.
  5. Identify evidence-based psychological treatment strategies for the management of pain and other GI-related symptoms.
  6. Recognize feeding behaviors and difficulties across developmental stages and differentiate picky eating versus avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) versus other eating disorders.
  7. Identify and apply evidence-based psychological treatment strategies for feeding difficulties including ARFID.
  8. Recognize challenges associated with a lack of patient/family willingness to buy-in to the use of psychological strategies for the treatment of GI conditions.

In support of improving patient care, Boston Children’s Hospital is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Psychologists and Social Workers registered for all three days can earn 18 CE credits. Those participating in Days 1 & 2 (Beginner/Intermediate) can earn 12 CE credits, and those participating in Day 3 (Advanced Psychogastroenterology) can earn 6 credits. 

Disclosure policy
Boston Children’s Hospital adheres to all ACCME Essential Areas, Standards, and Policies. It is Boston Children’s policy that those who have influenced the content of a CME activity (e.g. planners, faculty, authors, reviewers and others) disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial entities so that Boston Children’s may identify and resolve any conflicts of interest prior to the activity. These disclosures will be provided in the activity materials along with disclosure of any commercial support received for the activity. Additionally, faculty members have been instructed to disclose any limitations of data and unlabeled or investigational uses of products during their presentations.

The following planners, speakers, and content reviewers, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, have reported no relevant financial relationships with any entity producing, marketing, reselling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on patients.

Course Faculty:

Julia CarmodyLaura Distel
Rebecca KramerManuela Villa
Julie SydnerAmy Hale

CME Reviewer
Lesley Niccolini                                            No Relevant Financial Relationships to Disclose

Greg Durkin (Nursing)                                 No Relevant Financial Relationships to Disclose or as appropriate

Crystal Tom (Pharmacy)                             No Relevant Financial Relationships to Disclose or as appropriate

Pamela Chamorro (Social Work)               No Relevant Financial Relationships to Disclose or as appropriate

Eugene D’Angelo (Psychology)                  No Relevant Financial Relationships to Disclose or as appropriate

The following course faculty have reported the following disclosures:

NameCompany and Relationship
Ryan DavidsonJazz Pharmaceuticals, Research Consultant
Samuel NurkoIHS, Consultant; Allergan, Grant support

Zoom Information

Prior to the start of the webinar, please ensure that you have a zoom account. If you do not, please create one.

How to join and participate in a webinar

Evaluation Information:

At the completion of the live webinar a post-conference email from will grant you access to the online evaluation. Once you complete the evaluation, your CE certificate will be automatically generated.


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