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Minding Anxiety Project

Using state-of-the-art computerized feedback equipment to help RIT students help themselves, while providing data for research.

The Minding Anxiety Project provides a unique opportunity for RIT students to cope with stress, anxiety, or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

As a part of the new Institute of Health Sciences and Technology, a CAPS mental health counselor provides RIT students with training in psychophysiological self-regulation, to help gain control and feel comfortable in their own minds and bodies.

The center’s work builds on the effectiveness of self-regulation techniques such as biofeedback, hypnosis, meditation, and relaxation exercises, while tailoring these strategies to best meet individual needs.

Through the use of computerized biofeedback equipment on campus, students can learn about:

  • Controlling breathing
  • Focusing attention
  • Changing heart rate
  • Managing emotions

In the past, RIT students have successfully used Minding Anxiety Project to help themselves:

  • Fall asleep better
  • Eat healthier
  • Enjoy exercising
  • Feel comfortable socially
  • Feel more relaxed
  • Improve time management
  • Improve relationships
  • Improve academic work
  • Obtain a full time job

The Golisano Foundation, the Douglas Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, and RIT originally funded MAP as a 1-year pilot for RIT students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Over the last 4 years MAP has touched over 100 students at RIT who struggle with ASD, anxiety, and stress-related problems. MAP shows clinically and statistically significant benefits of decreased anxiety, increased self-concept and progress towards self-selected goals. There is a growing wait-list for students, faculty and staff who wish to participate in MAP. We are in the process of collecting ongoing follow-up data to assess the effects of this investment in student resilience and retention at RIT, as well as student graduation rates, and later success in the workplace. We intend to extend this program into other regional institutions of higher education. Funding will support program expansion with a dedicated program manager, staff training, and ongoing evaluation. Once established, we anticipate that extramural grants and the Center operating budget will sustain the Minding Anxiety Program into the future. Through MAP, RIT will become the first university with a model self-regulation program that invests in students’ abilities to improve self-regulation and enhance performance in the workplace. 

"I’ve learned that Controlled breathing has an enormous effect on stress levels. Much more so than I imagined."

"I am more mindful of my body, physically and psychologically. They are very connected and affect one another. I have a better understanding of my emotions and the physical response. I use the skills from MAP daily to help me relax to get through the day and to sleep and it's within me whenever I need it."

"I gained the most from being able to visually see what breathing techniques and actions helped me stay calm in stressful situations and apply these techniques in my everyday life."

"When overwhelmed, I now take time to breathe and relax. Destress."

"I am generally more comfortable with myself and less anxious as a direct result of participation."