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ACT 2020 Featured Capstone:
Building Resilience: Scientists Navigating Stress
Antoine de Morree, PhD
Industry/Profession: Science/Stanford Neurology Instructor
Describe Your Capstone Project.
As part of the scientific process, scientists must learn to deal with rejection and critique of their work and ideas. However, they receive little training on how to do so. You either learn it, or you leave. Not surprisingly, mental health issues are too common among science trainees. This hurts people and negatively impacts scientific progress. This Capstone Project is a course to offer scientists support in navigating stress, dealing with rejections, and helping others do the same. I taught ten weekly sessions of one hour on Zoom to 10-17 returning scientists. Sessions continue to this day.
Describe Its Impact.
This Capstone Project offered scientists a venue to discuss emotions and difficult situations and thus learn from each other’s experiences. Using research, personal stories, and targeted exercises, participating scientists learned to observe and analyze their own physical responses to stress and test ways to navigate those responses in a more controlled manner. They report finding an anchor in the weekly sessions, getting more aware of how their bodies and minds work, and feeling more equipped to handle stress.
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
It helped me get out of my own comfort zone and explore new ways to help others, while at the same time learning new tools for self-analysis. Learning by doing is key. It is a process in which the Principles of Compassion come to the foreground, specifically Curiosity and Humility. Curiosity because I am acting outside of my comfort zone and aim to be open-minded about what may happen. Humility because sometimes you might elicit the opposite of what was intended, which is ok as long as you are open to it.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering registering for the ACT Program?
The Applied Compassion Training has given me a great number of tools to improve my teaching and to help me navigate stress. Moreover, it has resulted in a network of likeminded people of highly different backgrounds and skillsets.
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