Spirituality, healing courses increase popularity at U

Kristin Frey

Carrying four credits during the summer, University senior Kim Anderson turned to a spirituality and resiliency elective course to relieve stress.

“I took a class in the summer and absolutely loved it,” said the journalism student, who has since enrolled in a similar forgiveness and healing course.

Such courses are gaining popularity at the Center of Spirituality and Healing, said Pamela Cherry, the center’s administrative director. The center developed a University master’s degree program in 1997 and has seen increased student enrollment since then, she said.

Cherry said enrollment has increased by more than 900 percent since the program’s creation. In 1997, 30 students were enrolled. There are 248 enrolled this semester, she said.

“I think that students are craving this information,” Cherry said. “I would imagine that consumer demand for the center’s therapy is being shown in the interests students have.”

A minor in therapies and healing practices for master’s students exposes them to an array of cross-cultural and spiritual practices, said Barbara Leonard, the center’s director of graduate studies.

Course topics range from Tibetan and Chinese medicine to therapeutic horticulture to a three-week course in Hawaii allowing students to study plants and human interaction, Leonard said.

While graduate students comprise most of the program’s enrollment, junior and senior undergraduate students can also take the center’s courses, she said.

Graduate students in nursing, medicine, public health and liberal arts programs often choose to complement their students with complementary therapies and healing practices courses, Cherry said.

In addition, she said, Carlson School of Management students can receive master’s degrees in health care administration with a concentration in therapies and healing practices.

“This is the nation’s first graduate program in complementary therapies,” she said. “There is not – as far as we know – an interdisciplinary program like ours.”

She added that many medical and health-care master’s programs offer similar therapy classes, but they are run by medical schools and only available to medical students.