Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Fall 9-20-2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Christopher Vye, Nathaniel Nelson, Kenneth Abram


The five senses orient us to the elements of the surrounding environment, making it possible to distinguish between danger, safety, and everything in between. But what about our ability to sense what is happening inside our bodies? This less well-known ability is called interoception and involves sensing internal physiological signals (via afferent or ascending pathways), interpreting and integrating these signals in the brain which can then send signals to help regulate physiological systems (via efferent or descending pathways). The primary structure implicated in the “interoceptive nervous system” is the insular cortex—an area of the brain that serves many different purposes from sensory processing to emotion processing to facilitating complex social functions like empathy. Researchers have examined interoceptive ability with a focus on different systems, including gastrointestinal functions or gastroception, excitation of the sympathetic nervous system via adrenergic stimulation, respiratory load including dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath), and most commonly, cardiac interoception or cardioception. Interoceptive dysfunction has also been implicated across several diagnostic categories of psychopathology, highlighting the importance of understanding the relationship between interoception and emotions to inform mental health professionals’ selection of effective interventions. This original contribution to practice reviews the literature examining the relationships between interoception, emotions, and mental health, argues for teaching the transdiagnostic relevance of interoception to counselors-in-training, and presents a preliminary framework for a single class curriculum on the subject.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.