Advocating for Mindfulness and Self-Care
Congratulations to Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, for being recognized as the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year! Dr. Gill Lopez is an associate professor, department chair, and director of GSEAP's school psychology program. She also designs and conducts workshops in mindfulness, cultural awareness, anger management, conflict mediation, and gang violence prevention, most recently for the West Contra Costa Human Relations Department.
Dr. Gill Lopez is also undertaking a promising research agenda with graduate students Rachel Baumann, Alaina Chapman, Noel DiBona, Amanda Drew, Tess Pieragostini, Rebecca Rivera, Sarah Rudolph, and Kimberly Sheehan. The team's work centers around mindfulness and self-care provided to professionals working within the school system. Participants in Project Self-Care include support professionals and teachers in four public school districts in Connecticut. The study set out to measure whether the effects of teaching self-care to such professionals can reduce stress, burnout risk, and negative physical symptoms — all of which are common among school professionals. Preliminary results suggest that self-care is a necessity for school professionals to be at their best. The study has been accepted for presentation at the Northeastern Educational Research Association (NERA) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The team will present yet again at the NASP conference in February and again in Chicago.
“After 24 years of teaching and numerous student research teams, I am thrilled with my current Project Self-Care team in a way I have never been before. I think this stems from the fact that the content we are researching and presenting is so wholly relevant to the quality of personal and professional everyday life. My interest in the topic of self-care was initially a personal one, but quickly grew to be something I had to share with students. We are still analyzing the data, but qualitative feedback is promising.”
Student team member Amanda Drew said, "Learning to practice self-care on our own has really motivated us to help others. Our research enforces the notion that self-care is not selfish and is, in fact, a necessity."