Why Bariatric Psychology is Necessary

You may be thinking “Why do I have to see the psychologist before my surgery/procedure?” or “What does psychology have to do with weight loss surgery?“ These are great questions – please read on and let me explain….

Bariatric Psychology is a unique and specialised area that helps to support people who are above their most comfortable weight (overweight or obese) and who are thinking about or have had, a bariatric procedure for weight loss A psychological assessment is a part of our multidisciplinary approach aimed to carefully assess the risks and benefits for our patients related to our procedures. The psychological assessment prior to a bariatric procedure is an opportunity for us to identify and modify potential barriers that may reduce long-term successful weight loss outcomes for patients.

Our psychologists can assist you to recognise problematic eating behaviours, learn strategies to cope with life stressors and engaging in healthy eating behaviours and physical activity. Common techniques that we use include psychoeducation, self-monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, problem solving and reinforcement; as well as addressing ambivalence, improving self-care and prevention of relapse.

The latest research indicates pre-operative and/or post-operative psychological interventions for patients seeking or undergoing bariatric surgery, to maximise weight loss and weight loss maintenance after the procedure for successful long-term outcomes (Usubini et.al., 2020).

Bariatric Psychologists can assist with:

  • Disordered eating such as overeating or binge eating
  • Emotional eating
  • Motivational or behavioural problems
  • Unhelpful self-talk and/or beliefs regarding the ability to manage weight effectively
  • Current and relevant historical mental health problems
  • Unhelpful coping styles
  • Unhelpful food, eating, and weight associations and messages
  • Body image and body dissatisfaction
  • Communication and assertiveness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-worth and/or lack of self-acceptance
  • Goal setting
  • Depression, anxiety, and other psychological factors/conditions that may be impacting your ability to implement consistent lifestyle-related behavioural changes

Leslie Hartley, WLSA Psychologist