Zen Comes to The New School

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The New School is getting in touch with its Qi (chee). For the past two years, members of the university’s Student Health Services (SHS) have been performing a rather innovative practice to manage stress and promote general well-being: auricular acupuncture. That’s the traditional Chinese medicinal practice of acupuncture, performed on certain points on the ear.  Tracy Robin, Assistant Vice President of SHS, and her team of health educators (Tamara Oyola-Santiago, Kristen Harvey, Rachel Knopf) recently co-authored an article in the American Journal of College Health on the benefits of the procedure when performed in a university setting.

Much of the studies done in the past on auricular acupuncture have focused on its tendency’s to help alleviate and manage cravings endured by recovering drug and alcohol addicts. As described the in the Robin, et al (2013) article:

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, also known as Acu Detox, acupuncture detoxification, 5-point ear acupuncture protocol, and 5-poin protocol, has been used as an adjunct to comprehensive substance abuse treatment in the 1970s. It is often provided in a community setting so that participants sit in a room and stay as long as they want, usually between 30 and 60 minutes. The 5 points in the ear that are stimulated during the NADA protocol are Shen Men, a point in traditional Chinese medicine that is known for its strong analgesic properties, and kidney, lung, liver, and the sympathetic nervous system. Clinical studies examining the use of the NADA protocol suggest that when used as a part of a comprehensive treatment, it can ameliorate craving related to withdrawal from drug use, and improve retention and participation.

Auricular acupuncture has also been effective in areas of health care outside the substance abuse realm, which is where The New School’s pilot program in the field of study comes to play.

Since March 2011, Student Health Services has developed a program providing auricular acupuncture and acupressure services as a way to enhance wellness and manage stress across the university. In the course of two years, nearly 2,000 university community members have received auricular acupuncture. Weekly drop-ins occur at the university’s health center and at the Lang Cafe, with no appointments necessary. Acupuncture specialists are also on hand to train students who wish to perform the procedure at home on their peers (there is no puncturing of the skin), and a training program has been integrated into the residence advisor training.

The authors of the article conclude that auricular acupuncture provides universities and colleges a safe and cost-effective intervention that enhances well-being and teaches students how to manage stress in an academic climate. To learn more about the services provided by The New School’s Student Health Services, click here.