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Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies

Teaching Practices That Don’t Rely on Textbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   For South Jersey residents seeking careers through which they can help others feel better and lead their best lives possible, the Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies (LIWS) trains caring and qualified holistic health practitioners to provide a full spectrum of services for patients throughout the region. A division of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, the institute offers certification programs in massage, reflexology, herbal medicine, aromatherapy and yoga teacher training to help students pursue rewarding careers in holistic fields.

“A lot of people ask why we added the ‘W’ to ‘Holistic’ in the name of our school. It’s because our mission is to focus on healing the whole person in a spiritually based way,” explains Dr. Frank Pileggi, dean of the Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies. “Imagine going to work every day and knowing that you helped someone in pain walk away with a big smile on their face because they’re feeing great. That’s the euphoria that I have as a practitioner every day, and also the feeling we want every single one of our students to experience.”

Launched in 1979, the institute emphasizes the spirituality component of each wellness modality, and it was one of the first schools to offer an associate’s degree in applied science for massage therapy. The program is offered in conjunction with Camden County College so students can receive college credit. Pileggi also makes a point of helping students learn how to connect with their patients and earn their trust

“Before I came on board in 2005, I owned a wellness center in Pennsylvania, and when  interviewing prospective students, I realized that everyone was reciting facts from textbooks. I thought if I ever had the opportunity to run a school, I would make it my mission to teach people to be themselves,” he recalls. “We’re not here to have you sit at a desk, lecture you and then ask you to take a test… we want to help you learn how to work with people, be a good listener and put patients at ease.”

Pileggi holds a master’s degree in holistic health sciences and a doctorate in holistic arts and practices, and is a nationally registered holistic practitioner specializing in advanced bodywork and somatic therapies. He is the founder of Corrective Muscle Therapy and holds certificates in more than 20 modalities as well as in athletic training. In addition to serving as dean of LIWS, Pileggi owns a Corrective Muscle Therapy practice in Burlington Township as part of the Lourdes Heath System.

Originally, LIWS emerged through the programs of Lourdes Wellness Center. Today, the school is considered especially unique because it’s a holistic health institution located inside the walls of an allopathic modern medicine center.

“Slowly but surely, we broke down some barriers, and now our school works hand-in-hand with physicians and nurses, so we can do things like provide patient massages right inside their hospital room,” Pileggi explains.

The institute also frequently offers clinics which are available to patients and members of the community. These events offer the opportunity for students to connect one-on-one with patients that may be struggling with physical maladies that haven’t been remedied through traditional approaches. The institute will also be holding an open house at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center from 5 to 7 p.m. on August 3.

Pileggi seems to have made his dream of running a school that doesn’t rely on textbooks a reality. Whether it’s through classes or clinics, students can expect to receive hands-on training in a supportive, spiritual environment that promotes the health and well-being of both students and their patients.

“Our students get to work on people with real issues, from stroke victims to patients with everyday issues like limited flexibility or range of motion,” he explains. For example, the massage clinics may include advanced stretching exercises and self-massage for arthritic conditions, while Chinese medicine experts might be on hand to show students how to access trigger points or use vibrational massage therapy

“We hardly use textbooks. What we do here is teach our students about life—and what it means to help someone else while pursuing a career that fills your life with excitement, determination, and passion,” he says.

The Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies is located at1600 Haddon Ave., Fifth Flr. pavilion, in Camden. For more information, call 856-580-6444 or visit LIWS.org

Jennifer Lesser is a New Jersey-based freelance writer specializing in health and fitness, parenting, and lifestyle. Visit her online at www.jenniferlesser.com.      

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