Postgraduate

Modules

Modules

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

Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

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
Conceptualizing interoception: Interoceptive accuracy vs sensitivity vs awareness
Models of processing bodily sensations and forming representations, predictive coding theories
Psychobiological Mechanisms in interoception and stress: The ascending and the descending branch of the brain-body axis and its role for emotion, attention, memory, decision-making
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
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, mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT)
-       breath-based approaches, e.g. respiration-tasks, pranayama
-       contemplative approaches. e.g. meditation/mindfulness

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture82:0016:001st hr-formal lecture. 2nd hr-interactive session Group presentation&discussion of research articles
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00Lectures held as practical workshops for formative exercises.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion144:0044:00Preparation and completion of assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading170:0070:00Reading and researching material to prepare for lecture sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical61:006:00Activity on lec material, measures of interoceptive awareness, dev or a prevention/intervention tool
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study160:0060:00Revising and exploring lecture notes, self-experience and assessment
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The chosen teaching methods encourage students to take an active role in their learning experience. Lectures are used to impart information and to actively discuss relevant research such that students can apply what they have learned from guided independent study and for course work. In addition to this two lectures will be held in workshop style for formative practice. Relevant research papers and instruments will be appraised in order to deepen understanding and foster independent critical thinking. There will be an element of group work (presentation) which will contribute to their final assessment and will allow them to develop their collaborative working skills and encourage them to negotiate and build relationships with others.

The practical sessions 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 instruct a tool to foster interoceptive awareness in others.


Students will be expected to complete guided independent study in order to help them prepare for lectures, tutorials, and practical sessions 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M3020 minute oral group presentation of research paper
Report2M70Reflective report written in a research report style (approx 2500 words)
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 an oral presentation which is held by a group of students and led into a discussion among the larger group.

Working towards in-depth comprehension and the skills-based module aim, 70% of the overall grade for this module will come from a reflective report. The report will be based on pre-post measures of interoceptive/embodied awareness & reflective journal, written in a research report style. 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. Students will be involved in the final decision about word count (approx. 2500, reflective journal as appendix) and the development of detailed marking criteria for this assessment.

Two of the lectures will be held in workshop form for formative feedback. The first workshop will be dedicated to 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

Timetable