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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Calm Oasis: The Integrative Wellness Center (IWC) in Chester delivers peace of mind, body, and spirit

Mar 31, 2015 03:55PM ● By Susan Bloom

To help alleviate the stress of 21st-century living, many people tap into a collection of integrative therapies, from yoga and Pilates to meditation and massage, often traveling to a variety of different studios to secure all of these offerings.  Happily, these and other therapies are now all available under one roof in the recently opened Integrative Wellness Center (iwc), a Chester-based “place of calm” where guests will experience deep relaxation, connection, personal enrichment, and a feeling of rejuvenation both inside and out.

The center was launched in 2014 by founder and Mendham native Valerie Merton, 50, a licensed professional counselor (LPC).  After practicing for nearly 15 years in hospitals and a variety of other healthcare facilities, which can often be more sterile and uncomfortable environments, and creating her own successful intensive outpatient program, Merton said, “I realized I wanted to build a comprehensive center of my own that was warm and welcoming and which addressed a person’s mind, body, and spirit in a very holistic but practical and functional way.”

Since opening its doors within the historic two-story Nathan Cooper house in Chester, the iwc has welcomed guests into its beautifully renovated space, which features an inviting lobby with a fireplace, cozy yoga and Pilates studios downstairs, massage and psychotherapy/counseling services upstairs, and an overall spa-like atmosphere defined by a palette of soft gray and blue colors, warm textures, aromatherapy, and gentle music designed to engage all the senses.  “Our décor is conducive to calmness and healing, and our guests tell us all the time how comfortable and relaxed they feel here,” Merton said.

On the physical side, Merton and her professional team – which includes a yoga and Pilates expert, an exercise physiologist, two seasoned massage therapists, and a medical doctor – offer a range of popular and beneficial services, including deep-tissue, Swedish, warm bamboo, raindrop, acupressure, and prenatal massage as well as stretching, yoga, and Pilates classes via individual or small-group sessions to ensure a highly personalized experience.  “All of these practices elongate, relax, and invigorate the body and mind while helping people remain flexible and strong, which is extremely important as we age,” Merton confirmed.

On the spiritual side, the iwc offers such popular integrative therapies as Reiki, reflexology, meditation and relaxation, and aromatherapy in addition to a full range of counseling services for groups, families, adolescents, and adults in formats that meet the needs of today’s busy individuals.  “Traditionally, guests will receive an evaluation and meet with me for an ongoing period of time until a resolution is reached,” Merton said of the center’s counseling services, “but we also offer ‘drop-in’ therapy sessions, including our ‘Sort, Clarify & Solve’ session, where guests can come in with an issue seeking a solution, or our ‘Vent & Release’ session for those who are overwhelmed and simply need to get some issues off their chest.  We’re excited to offer these unique options.” Merton feels that their more singular, stand-alone design can help increase the accessibility of beneficial counseling to the broader community.

“In order to be as happy and healthy as possible as we age, we need to maintain balance by addressing all domains of our lives – from relationships, work, and family to our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs – and everyone’s needs  and ‘balance’ are different,” shared Merton.  “We encourage people to find their own definition of balance through our broad range of services.”

Of the iwc’s approach to providing comprehensive wellness, Merton concludes, “We’re a team of highly qualified professionals and we care very much about our guests, which is very special and rare. We love what we do and it shows.”

The Integrative Wellness Center (iwc) is located at 401 Route 24 in Chester and can be reached by calling 908-879-8700 or visiting  Hours are by appointment, and spa party packages are available.

Freelancer Susan Bloom is a regular contributor to The Star-Ledger, Inside Jersey Magazine, New Jersey Monthly Magazine, The Daily Record, The Asbury Park Press, The Courier News, and The Home News Tribune and specializes in topics related to health, food, and fitness.

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