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PSY8079 : The Body, the Mind, and the Self: Interoception and Mental Health

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jessica Komes
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Bringing together cognitive and clinical psychology, this module aims to further the students understanding of interoception, i.e. the processing of internal bodily signals, and its role for physical and mental wellbeing. Students will gain conceptual knowledge about how the perception and appraisal of bodily signals link to overall-wellbeing with a healthy sense of embodied self on one hand, and to stress, maladaptive regulative behaviour, and body-related health conditions such as e.g. anxiety, somatic symptom and eating disorders on the other hand. Students will also be equipped with practical knowledge about tools to foster this link in order to build the capacity to contribute to their own wellbeing and to prevent and alleviate physical and mental disease for themselves and others.

Outline Of Syllabus

History and perspectives on interoception and embodiment
Conceptualizing interoception: Interoceptive accuracy vs sensibility vs awareness
Models of processing bodily sensations and forming representations, active inference and predictive coding theories
Experience of embodiment: development and construct, risk and protective (social) factors
Somatic markers and somatic errors in stress and anxiety (Dis-)embodiment and self-disorders, e.g. eating disorders
Measuring Interoceptive/Body Awareness: Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA), Body Perception Questionnaire, Body Awareness Questionnaire (BAQ), Body Responsiveness Scale, Embodiment Scale
Interoception and stress: The ascending and descending branch of the brain-body axis and its role for emotion, attention, memory, decision-making
The role of mindfulness and the role of movement for body awareness
Interventions fostering interceptive awareness skills for embodied selfhood

-       body-integrative approaches, e.g. yoga/somatics, trauma-sensitive yoga therapy, mindful awareness in
body-oriented therapy (MABT), other trauma-informed approaches
-       breath-based approaches, e.g. respiration-tasks, pranayama
-       contemplative approaches. e.g. meditation/mindfulness/MBSR

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture72:0014:00Present in person (PiP): lecture/seminar
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion145:0045:00Preparation and completion of assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading165:0065:00Reading/research to engage with lecture material & formative exercises/reflective practice & writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00Present in person (PiP): Skills development, Q&A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00Present in Person (PIP) - group work activities and assessment
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study158:0058:00Revising and exploring lecture notes, self-experience and assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk12:002:00Present in Person (PIP) - Introduction to the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The chosen teaching methods encourage students to take an active role in their learning experience. A module talk will introduce students to the module, establishing its content, approach and pattern of student learning activities, relevant for professional/clinical content and will outline the role of the module topic for academic psychology and applied/therapeutic practice.

Structured learning activities using lecture materials will impart information and assure students will engage with relevant literature and research such that students can apply what they have learned from guided independent study and for course work. Relevant research papers and instruments will be appraised in order to deepen understanding of the learning content and foster independent critical thinking. Activities will entail group work for students to develop their collaborative working skills and encourage them to negotiate and build relationships with others. In addition two workshops will be delivered and will include an element of group work including formative feedback based on peer-reviewing of the first draft report and preparation of the final assessment.

The practical sessions will be based on lecture material, and will foster interoceptive awareness, development and delivery of a prevention/intervention tool. They will entail research-led teaching enabling the students to track changes in the representation/awareness of their own bodily states using different measures. A reflective journal is kept documenting if and how their learning experience relates to an increase of interoceptive/embodied awareness and how this may serve psychological functions (e.g. emotion regulation, decision-making). For skill development, students will learn how to design and deliver a tool to foster interoceptive awareness in others.

Students will be expected to complete guided independent study in order to help them prepare for learning activities and will be encouraged to further their own specific interests in body-mind interactions and their link to basic and applied aspects in psychology.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M30Poster and pre-recorded small group oral presentation (max 10 min)
Report2M70Research Report based on pre-post MAIA scores & reflective journal (2500 words)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MPeer review a draft of the research report - linked to workshops
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There will be 2 forms of assessment for this 20 credit module.

30% of the overall grade for this module will come from the poster and a small group video recording of an oral presentation of the poster in which relevant literature is synthesised to illustrate the relevance of the module topic for mental health.

Working towards in-depth comprehension and the skills-based module aim, 70% of the overall grade for this module will come from a research report based on the reflective journal and on pre-post measures of interoceptive/embodied awareness. Students will complete different instruments measuring interoceptive/embodied awareness (see syllabus section) at the beginning and the end of the semester. A reflective journal will be kept to document experiences of interoceptive awareness over the course of the module.

Students will be asked to discuss rises, drops, or steadiness of items and how these changes may relate to particular experiences during the practical sessions/interventions and the potential impact on their every-day life experience, e.g. with respect to emotion regulation or decision-making. Students will critically appraise the different measures as in how far they are able to capture change (or steadiness) in interoceptive/embodied awareness. The report will be written in APA style presenting existing literature on the topic (limited to 2500 words, reflective journal as appendix).

There will be two workshops dedicated to formative feedback. The first workshop will entail the analyses of the interoception/embodiment-related measurement scores (e.g. MAIA), writing time, issues about the write up and the marking criteria. Students will work in small groups to exchange ideas and address issues. General issues will also be discussed in the larger group. In between workshops students will exchange reports with approx. 2
-3 others to gain peer-reviewed feedback in the second workshop. Here, students will work in small groups to give and receive feedback and work on the final draft.

This choice assesses the students’ understanding of the learning content and their ability to evaluate and critically analyse psychological research. The assessment requires both discerning and synthesising knowledge acquired over the course of the module and communication of such. The report deepens the understanding of the learning material and transfers it into both research as well as clinical practice.

For resits, a practical/applied session will be offered in which an interoceptive awareness exercise is practiced with the students and potentially recorded by the students. They will carry out the exercise by themselves and reflect on their interoceptive awareness over a yet to be defined period of time (approximately six weeks) before handing in their report.

Reading Lists