Paula Gill Lopez, PhD in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions partnered with eight graduate students to conduct mindfulness and self-care research among professionals working in the school system.
Dr. Paula Gill Lopez has many accolades to her name. The Associate Professor, Department Chair, and School Psychology Program Director in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has not only been recognized as the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year, she has also co-written curricula and conducted workshops in mindfulness, cultural awareness, anger management, conflict mediation, and gang violence prevention for the West Contra Costa Human Relations Department, to name a few. But Dr. Gill Lopez’s latest pursuit allows her students to build upon her past accomplishments.
Along with graduate students Rachel Baumann, Alaina Chapman, Noel DiBona, Amanda Drew, Tess Pieragostini, Rebecca Rivera, Sarah Rudolph, and Kimberly Sheehan, Dr. Gill Lopez is embarking on yet another research project, this time centering around mindfulness and self-care as provided to professionals working in 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," said Gill Lopez. "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."