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Guided Imagery Initiative Targets Student Stress at California Community Colleges

13 Mar

I’m super excited to report that the California Community College system is initiating a cutting edge, pilot initiative to help its 2.1 million students in 113 colleges better manage stress, by giving its students free guided imagery downloads to support their emotional resilience, as they manage their very complicated, demanding lives. 

The web page, available through the Chancellor's Office and supported through the CCC Foundation, offers seven different guided imagery exercises for stress reduction, help with sleep, relief for the blues, help with concentration and overcoming procrastination. 

Our evidence-based Health Journeys guided meditations have been found to relieve stress (including posttraumatic stress) and improve self-regulation skills. Most are by Belleruth Naparstek, ACSW. The Overcome Procrastination download is by Traci Stein, PhD.

This idea was the brain child of the Health Services Association of California Community College - an extraordinary group of dedicated professionals (mostly nurses) - who continually strive to find creative ways to help students, in spite of shrinking budgets and increased demand for their services.

The students, ranging widely in age and demographics, tend to juggle academic demands with employment, parenting, chronic pain conditions and financial challenges. Many are veterans. The pressures on them are extraordinary.

The California Community College system is the largest system of higher education in the nation. 

Sidebar: This whole thing got started a little over a year ago, when the awesome Laureen Campana, MPH, RN, NP, this year’s President of the Executive Board of HSACCC, button-holed me in Tucson, at the University of Arizona’s two-year, Integrative Medicine Fellowship Program’s Residence Week, where I happened to be teaching the module on guided imagery. This program, founded by Andy Weil MD and directed and developed by Victoria Maizes MD, has trained nearly 1100 integrative medicine docs, many of whom are now leading new IM departments in hospitals and HMO’s across the US and the globe.

Laureen wanted to figure out the best, most cost-effective, user-friendly and evidence-based way to offer students help for stress and other barriers to success, and was thinking  guided imagery might be just the ticket to support their emotional resilience and wellness.

We hit it off and put our heads together that year. What a treat to be able to plan and strategize with such a visionary leader with a gift for marshalling support from her institution and her colleagues. What an inspiring example she provides for making good things happen in a very large bureaucracy with not a ton of resources! 

Tip o’ the hat, Laureen, my friend!

To be continued.  We’ll be keeping you all updated on this. 

Take care and be well.

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Belleruth

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award