Sharing Vision for Student Community and Wellness in Counseling & Family Sciences | School of Behavioral Health | Loma Linda University
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CFS Student Wellness Committee

Current CFS Student Wellness Committee Members: Row 1: Prof. Alisha Saavedra, Natalie Hsieh, John Lou; Row 2: Karlet Reyes, Lisa Salazar, Marina Zaky; Row 3: Dr. Lena Lopez Bradley, Dr. Zephon Lister.

By Natalie Hsieh (PhD Candidate in Systems, Families and Couples) - October 26, 2020

We have all been navigating loss, disrupted rhythms, and uncertainty in 2020. At the start of shelter-in-place, I cancelled travel plans to be a bridesmaid in a close friend's wedding and attended my first wedding via Zoom instead. That same week, I found out that LLU was going entirely online. This was only the beginning of a new normal.

In this space, many of us find ourselves searching for home base. My spring break exchanges with Dr. Zephon Lister (Systems, Families, and Couples PhD program director) reinforced a sense that CFS students need a safe haven and ongoing common meeting space as a community. Several students and faculty responded to our invitation to promote CFS community and wellness during COVID-19 and beyond, and formed the CFS Student Wellness Committee.

While sheltering in place mandates were the catalyst for our committee, many of us at CFS have hoped for a sense of home with each other for a while. I have been in classes where both faculty and students took risks to share deeper layers of their lived experiences and identity. Fellow students have initiated social events and study groups to help cohorts bond and share workloads. Faculty have demystified professional development and welcomed students of all experience levels to collaborate in service, teaching, research, and presentations. Administration has responded to student concerns and requests for more open affirmations of diversity in our student body. We have come together to process challenging times in our nation and in our community. We can build on these moments by purposely noticing and encouraging them, and creating space for more intentional growth.

Sharing Vision for CFS Community

Cultivate a welcoming and collaborative CFS student community space and culture

At the heart of experiencing community with one another is choosing to regularly think in terms of "we" – what we each bring to the field and to one another. We can welcome and root for each other as comrades, rather than competition for positions or publications. We can grow our hearts as persons and professionals by valuing our diversity and challenging ourselves to purposely learn from one another. What are your passions, gifts, burdens, experiences, and convictions you can share to build up our community?

Facilitate ways to grow together in bio-psycho-social-spiritual awareness and wellness

Our school, university, and field, highlight "whole person" care, which integrates bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects. But often our field spends less time encouraging our knowledge and experience of biological wellness, and we may feel timid to broach spiritual wellness or cultural context aspects of social wellness. Can we find ways to break the ice and grow in all of these dimensions regularly together?

Strengthen mutual support among CFS students and faculty and our department, school, campus, community

Finally, graduate life is hard. Many of us have felt out of our league academically, wondered who would catch us if we needed help, or felt nervous about sharing an unpopular perspective. We may at times face crises or feel overwhelmed with finances or work/life balance. I know I have. Fellow committee member, Marina Zaky, DMFT student, shares: "Grad school can be stressful, and my hope is that we can have an outlet where we can learn more about self-care and practice that with our peers, while getting to know one another." Cheers to that! Here are two ongoing ways we can connect as a CFS community.

CFS Wellness Hour – Fridays @ Noon

Join us Fridays at noon for the CFS Wellness Hour via Zoom, a personal and professional space where we can connect and grow together through Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual wellness topics and activities. Here are some past topics:

  • Biological Wellness: Sleep techniques, emotional freedom therapy, music therapy
  • Psychological Wellness: pet therapy, gratitude, navigating impact of media
  • Social Wellness: CFS Wellness Jeopardy!, Scattergories, Quiplash
  • Spiritual Wellness: Community prayer, praise, spiritual reflections and personal stories

Zoom links are provided weekly through Canvas calendar events and mail. Public portions of CFS Wellness Hour are recorded so you can view video, show notes and handouts on our Canvas page anytime. We pause recording and encourage respect for privacy when focused on group sharing.

CFS Wellness Community via Canvas

This fall we launched our CFS Canvas webspace, a virtual community lounge that can help us stay connected, especially as online classmates and during the pandemic. This is a space where we can post announcements, exchange ideas and discuss topics, share professional resources, and encouragements.

As mentioned, it is also a storehouse of CFS Wellness Hour videos, show notes and handouts. Right now this webpage is just getting started, and we can use your ideas and help to grow this resource. Karlet Reyes, current webmaster and PhD student in Systems, Families, and Couples, shares this: "I hope that as a community, we can continue to bond with one another despite the distance and remoteness. I believe that this can be a virtual space where we can connect with one another and can help ease our journey throughout our programs."

Please help us grow our Canvas space to reflect our shared vision and unique perspectives in coming days.

Share and Serve with Us

CFS students and faculty, please join us in cultivating the community culture and home base that we seek. Please accept the invitation to join our Canvas community page and join us for CFS Wellness Hour when you can. We welcome your input for CFS Wellness Hour topics and co-hosts, Canvas resources and discussion boards. You can also share expertise in Canvas or marketing, or join our planning committee. Email cfswellnesscommittee@llu.edu or fill out our contact form here. Thanks, and see you soon!

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