A common problem students face is what to do when they find themselves stressed but not sure how to relieve it. Often, because it is situational, it may not warrant a trip to a regular counselor, but all students could go to the Counseling Center for another reason: The Mind Spa, a tiny room located off the main waiting area meant for individualized self-care.
There are no appointments needed. Inside, students are greeted with a peacefully lit room. There is a free hot tea station, complete with kettle, a desk with a computer, coloring pages, a few games like Jenga, self help books, a small nap/sitting area, a zen sand garden and a full body massage chair.
The Mind Spa was tailor-made so students would have a place to find refuge on campus. “It was designed as a space for students to come in, engage in different forms of wellness and self-care and to have a space just to relax and to take a break,” said Dr. Whitney Hobson, a staff psychologist and Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling Center.
The Spa has been around since 2014 and it was designed from its inception with students in mind and to promote the Counseling Center’s belief in a holistic approach to wellness. Even though it is located inside the Counseling Center, a student does not have to be seeking services to use The Mind Spa.
“You don’t have to be connected to the Counseling Center to use it,” stressed Hobson. “We have seen at times people who come … for weeks or months but never scheduled a counseling appointment might choose one day to finally say, you know what I actually do want to speak to someone … The purpose isn’t necessarily to bring in folks for our clinical services. It’s really to create this holistic space that students can have and to be empowered to kind of create their own self-care.”
There are other tools in The Mind Spa that facilitate students creating their own form of self-care such as a light box for light box therapy and the biofeedback machine. The light box therapy utilizes UV light to ease depression symptoms, usually Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The biofeedback system can teach one to not only identify the involuntary physiological symptoms of anxiety but learn to make them voluntary through a computerized game and sensors. Both light boxes can be checked out, but the biofeedback machine is solely for The Mind Spa.
If a student does not know how to use any of the resources available inside The Mind Spa, or is perhaps looking for further additional resources, the front desk is always available for help, as the Counseling Center wants students to have the resources they may need to succeed. Dobson is a firm believer that therapy looks and exists differently for every individual. “I myself write poetry,” she added.
There are some very early stage conversations about expanding The Mind Spa or having similar spaces on campus, though nothing concrete as of this writing. The Mind Spa is entirely funded through the Counseling Center’s budget as it is considered a vital part of its daily operations and considered an important therapeutic tool so it will always be available for students.
“We often times will see friend groups meet up at The Mind Spa. We’ll see two or three people sitting on the floor, drinking tea, doing the sand tray or playing Jenga,” commented Hobson, “[It’s] just a really great space students can use however they see fit.”
The Mind Spa is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. inside the Counseling Center.