The list reads like a menu of options from a new age spa: Self-Empowerment Through Mindfulness Meditation; Yoga for a Natural High; Massage; Alexander Technique; Energy Healing; Yoga Happy Hour. However, all of these workshops and more are found right here on campus in Purchase's Wellness Center.
Step into the center from the third floor stairwell of Campus Center South and the shift from the everyday commotion outside to the calm and positive energy inside is palpable. Staff and interns are warm and welcoming in a space dressed in tapestries adorned with Hindu gods, candles and soothing lights, comfortable chairs, stacks of pillows, and rolled yoga mats awaiting yogis.
Hired in 2000 as a substance abuse counselor, Director of Wellness Regina Abdou, LMHC, CASAC, CPP, recognized that some students needed redirection away from the drinking and drug abuse misperceived as "normal college behavior." She explained, "the Wellness Center provides alternatives, answering the question, 'what else is there?'"
Since then, Abdou has been able to gradually expand services from those that strictly address substance abuse prevention and counseling to those that address the whole student—mind, body, and spirit—providing multiple paths forward through mindfulness and the healing arts.
For students already in recovery and others committed to a healthy lifestyle, the Wellness Center provides, not only classes and workshops, but also the opportunity to connect to a community of people who share their interests and provide support.
Abdou finds this generation of students in particular wide open to alternative healing methods. The demand for wellness programs increases every year, partially reflecting the rise in widespread appeal of the healing arts. While mental health is primarily handled by the Counseling Center, the Wellness Center works in tandem, providing an oasis and support for those working through issues.
With the help of six undergraduate and two graduate interns, Abdou and Wellness Counselor Roey Ficaro, LCSW, CPP, work to provide yoga, meditation and other classes seven days a week, in addition to special events such as Rejuvenation Stations, Spa Nights, and Alcohol Screenings. Another success is Wellness Shock, the place during Culture Shock where students find art activities, board games, a photo booth with props, massages, and other healthy and fun alternatives to drinking.