By Judie Wexler October 30, 2018
I just returned from two weeks of meetings and conferences in China with Lixin Huang, Vice President for China Projects.
The trip started with a celebration of the opening of the CIIS China Projects Office in Beijing. Michael Li and Eadie Chen, major CIIS supporters from China, put together an exciting opening program featuring speakers from CIIS, as well as from Chinese universities and organizations. We were joined by many graduates of our intensive psychology programs for Chinese students and by people new to CIIS.
It was an outstanding opportunity to talk about our University's 50-year history of offering holistic, integral education; our commitment to building bridges with Asia; and our master's in counseling psychology programs and plans for more workshops, certificate programs, and collaborations with universities in China.
Meeting a Need
With psychology as a major theme of the trip, universities, schools, and government agencies talked with us about China's need for more and better trained psychotherapists, and for therapists who have the skills and experience to connect psychology with Chinese philosophy and practices that emphasize holistic wellness.
Astoundingly, we were told that China needs 750,000 therapists and that as of September, there are 50,000. To meet that need, CIIS is looking at expanding our breadth of offerings in China and our collaborations and partnerships. China needs to build a counseling psychology infrastructure—much as we have in the U.S.—so that students get supervised practicum experience, and there are jobs for them when they graduate. CIIS can support this by providing ongoing training for licensed psychologists that broadens their knowledge and by working with universities on clinical skills development.
Student Mental Health
The last leg of our trip was at a conference in Hongzhou at the College Hospital Mental Health Peak Forum with the C9 College Alliance. CIIS was the only University represented outside this group of China's top nine universities, Zhejiang, Beijing, and Tsingua among them. As one of the keynote speakers, I talked about mental health issues among college students and how the CIIS Wellness Center and our other University centers are meeting these challenges.
Transformative Studies professor Daniel Deslauriers also gave a lecture entitled "Learning to Dream and Dreaming to Learn," and led workshops on dream work. Our participation in this conference highlighted our collaboration since 2013 with Zhejiang University to the wider Chinese university community.
Two Programs Turn 25
In addition to marking our 50th anniversary this year, CIIS is celebrating the 25th anniversaries of the Women's Spirituality program, the School of Undergraduate Studies, and online education. Congratulations to the faculty, staff, and students who have participated in and helped shape these programs for a quarter of a century. I want to express my deep gratitude to the founding faculty (or close), especially Alec McLeod, Connie Jones, Alfonso Montuori, Tanya Wilkinson, Charlene Spretnak, and Mara L. Keller, who had the vision to see a need and to create and uphold academic programs that fill that need. These continue to be visionary programs.