Students learn to cope with stress

The Biola Counseling Center started offering free courses for students, called RIO.


Rebecca Mitchell/THE CHIMES

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

To help students manage stress, the Biola Counseling Center started their second round of Recognition Insight Openness classes on Oct. 27.


The three week course shares simple tips on practicing recognition, insight and openness, after students have received the definition and examples of each topic. The courses began last year with a student fee of $20, but now students can take the course for free, according to BCC internship training director Michele Willingham.

“It teaches skills… that people could use to just manage the stress because I know there are all kinds of issues that [a] college student faces, and so a lot of them include mindfulness, meditation skills and different types of resources available for students,” said Annette Chan, teacher of the RIO courses and BCC doctoral intern therapist. “I personally find it very helpful, and I use some of those skills in my own personal life as well as in therapy with clients as well.”

The program started at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo several years ago, and evolved along with Azusa Pacific University’s Counseling Center to include a Christian perspective. In the course’s first week, students learn to recognize their thoughts and emotions as well as their bodies’ response to them, and the following weeks discuss how their experiences reveal what remains meaningful to them and how to retain openness to changing aspects of their lives, according to Willingham.

Being open means accepting yourself and your internal experiences as they are, and allowing yourself space to move forward. Change is an excellent strategy when students need to address or change something outside themselves, something in their environment or about their circumstances,” Willingham said in an email.


While the program has received minimal interest, students such as junior journalism major Russell Spacy believes the course can benefit students beginning their college career.

“Definitely think that’s a good idea because, I mean, especially for when starting out college, because I know when I started community college I didn’t know how to deal with a lot of that. And so, definitely I think that’s a great source to help,” Spacy said.

Willingham hopes to offer the course every year if students remain interested in the topic.  

“Ideally, students will put the new tools they learn at RIO into day-to-day practice, and feel less stressed out, more calm, and focused,” Willingham said in an email. “Hopefully they will be better equipped to manage their lives and emotions so they can invest themselves and their energy more fully into their academic work, relationships, and spiritual growth.”

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