What is the IBS.mindovergut.com Resilience Program?
In 2013 Associate Professor Simon Knowles (the primary investigator) developed IBSclinic.org.au, a website that provided free evidence-based peer-reviewed information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the first freely available online cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) intervention for IBS. The new online intervention program (referred to as the IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program) has been developed based on participant qualitative and quantitative feedback from the original online intervention program, and recent advances in psychological interventions.
The aim of the IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program is to help individuals identify and utilise psychologically-focused strategies in order to promote optimal well-being, and in turn reduce the impact of IBS in their lives.
The IBS.mindovergut.com resilience program is based on a combination of Stress Management (SM), CBT, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). SM strategies such as relaxed breathing will be utilised to reduce stress and the physiological impact that stress has on the body (e.g. increased muscle tension around the gastrointestinal tract). CBT strategies such as cognitive flexibility (identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns that promote stress and IBS symptoms e.g. ‘My IBS is getting worse’) and exposure work (a planned activity where individuals confront a situation which they currently avoid due to unwanted distress). ACT strategies (e.g. Mindfulness and Cognitive defusion) aim to change the negative cycle of distress associated with illness.
The IBS.mindovergut.com resilience program is based on 5 modules, with the 5th module being optional. Each module (consisting of videos, text, handouts, and audio files e.g. relaxation tracks) is designed to be completed once a week, taking approximately 30 minutes, with associated homework-based activities taking a further 20-40 minutes per day. A summary of the 5 modules and their focus of target around IBS-related processes are provided below:
Stress Management & Moving Towards Your Vision for The Future – Stress Management and Setting goals based on your values
Targets: Hypervigilance/Visceral sensitivity, Perceived lack of control regarding IBS, Stress and Psychological distress, and Identifying with illness
How you think impacts on how you feel – Mindfulness and acceptance, and Cognitive defusion
Targets: Catastrophizing and ruminating about symptoms, Perceived lack of control regarding IBS, Hypervigilance/Visceral sensitivity, and Stress and Psychological distress
How you think impacts on how you feel – Cognitive flexibility
Targets: Catastrophizing and ruminating about symptoms, perceived lack of control regarding IBS, hypervigilance/visceral sensitivity, and stress and psychological distress
How you act can impact on how you think and feel – Exposure work
Targets: Avoidance and safety behaviours
Review and overcoming setbacks (OPTIONAL)
Targets: Building gains, overcoming setbacks, other resources
NOTE: Prior to accessing the optional 5th module, participants will need to complete a post-intervention questionnaire (Swinburne’s Qualtrics online questionnaire platform). Upon completion of the post-intervention participants will a code (e.g. Access101) which will allow them access to the locked Module 5 content.
How may the IBS.Mindovergut.com
Resilience program help?
The IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program is designed to help participants identify and target stress, illness-related thoughts and beliefs, maladaptive illness-related coping patterns, and psychological distress (e.g. anxiety and/or depression) all identified in the literature and my research as facilitating IBS symptoms. We hope that by completing the IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program you will develop more strategies that can be utilised to promote optimal well-being and in turn reduce the impact of IBS on your life.
Who can participate?
You are welcome to participate if you are (1) aged over aged 18 or older, (2) have a diagnosis of IBS by a medical professional (e.g. general practitioner, gastroenterologist), (3) experience normal to moderate levels of distress (as confirmed via the Mindovergut.com brief psychological distress assessment tool), and (4) not currently seeing a mental health professional (e.g. psychologist, psychiatrist) for mental health concerns.
This online self-help psychological treatment service is NOT appropriate for individuals who experience serious mental illness. If you are seeing things that other people do not see; or hearing voices or someone talking when no one else is around; or feel that something very odd is going on, that people are testing you or trying to hurt you so you feel that you have to be on your guard most or all of the time; or if you currently feel so unwell that you thought about hurting yourself, you should talk to your local health professional, and if urgent, see a medical doctor.
Ensure you have scores in the normal to moderate ranges. If you have any scores in the SEVERE range, please do not enrol in the IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program. Instead we recommended you meet with your medical doctor to discuss the results and ensure you can attain appropriate mental health support.
Read over the participant information and consent form, and complete the pre-intervention (IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program) questionnaire.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us, click HERE for details.
Thank you for your interest in taking part in the IBS.Mindovergut.com resilience program.
Associate Professor Simon Knowles