Erin Ayala Ph.D.

Erin Ayala, Ph.D.

Doctor of Psychology Program - Core Faculty

Brother Louis Hall, BLH248    |    Campus Box: # 28
(612) 238-4515   |

Expertise: Women’s Health and Sports Psychology.

Dr. Erin Ayala is a licensed psychologist and core faculty member in the counseling psychology doctoral program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She teaches courses in quantitative methods, sport psychology, cognitive assessment, and personality assessment. In addition to her work as a faculty member, Dr. Ayala is engaged in clinical work and assessments with athletes at Premier Sport Psychology, PLLC. She provides community training and outreach upon request.
  • Areas of Expertise: Prevention and Health Promotion, Sport Psychology, Professional Development of Students and Early Career Professionals, Multiculturalism and Diversity
  • Scholarly & Creative Interests

    Dr. Ayala has authored several peer reviewed publications and remains active in empirical research, conference presentations, and scholarly collaborations in the field.  Her research interests include prevention and health promotion, sport psychology, multiculturalism and diversity, and professional development of students and early career professionals.  

    She is an Associate Editor for Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, and serves as a reviewer for a number of other journals in psychology, health, and behavioral sciences.

  • Courses Taught Recently at Saint Mary's

    Psychometrics, Quantitative Research and Statistical Analysis, Dissertation Proposal, Applied Sport Psychology, Cognitive Assessment, Advanced Psychopathology

  • Affiliations
    - American Psychological Association, Society of Counseling Psychology
  • Education
    - Albany Psychology Internship Consortium: Internship, Pre-Doctoral Internship (2015)
    - University at Albany: Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, (2015)
  • Experience

    Dr. Ayala taught at state universities, small liberal arts colleges, and academic medical centers in the eight years prior to joining the faculty at Saint Mary’s.  Her postdoctoral work at Albany Medical College focused on medical student stress, well-being, and self-care. She continues to do research and community outreach pertaining to occupational stress and wellbeing for medical students, doctoral students in psychology, and other early career professionals.  Dr. Ayala is also engaged in part-time clinical work with athletes in the community at Premier Sport Psychology in Edina, MN.  While living in New York, she volunteered as a mentor in a couch-to-5k program for survivors of domestic violence.

  • Links
  • Former Timberwolf Kevin Love dunks on mental health stigmas
    Fox 9 | online
    Mar 6, 2018

    “Athletes in general are taught to step outside of their comfort zone in order to get better and reach their peak performance, and this is another act of doing that,” said Dr. Erin Ayala, Premier Sport Psychology, PLLC.

  • Advice for a med student's must-have—a sound night's sleep
    Medical School Life | online
    Feb 26, 2018

    “Med students who don’t get enough good-quality sleep might find it difficult to focus on the complex information that they are learning for sustained amounts of time during their lectures, especially when it’s all didactic” during the first two years of medical school, Ayala said.

  • Prevalence, perceptions, and consequences of substance use in medical students Medical Education Online
    Erin Ayala, Destiny Roseman, Jeffrey S. Winseman, Hyacinth R.C. Mason


    Research regarding the health and wellness of medical students has led to ongoing concerns regarding patterns of alcohol and drug use that take place during medical education. Such research, however, is typically limited to single-institution studies or has been conducted over 25 years ago.

  • What Do Medical Students Do for Self-Care? A Student-Centered Approach to Well-Being Teaching and Learning in Medicine
    Erin Ayala, Aisha M. Omorodion, Dennis Nmecha, Hyacinth R.C. Mason


    Using concept mapping methodology, the research team created a student-generated taxonomy of self-care behaviors taken from a national sample of medical students in response to a brainstorming prompt. The research team examined how students' conceptualizations of self-care may be organized into a framework suitable for use in programming and curricular change in medical education.

  • A Cross-Sectional Snapshot of Sleep Quality and Quantity Among US Medical Students Academic Psychiatry
    Erin Ayala, Rani Berry, Jeffrey S Winseman, Hyacinth RC Mason


    Fatigue is a well-known risk factor for mood disturbances, decreased cognitive acuity, and impaired judgment. Sleep research in medical students typically focuses on sleep quantity, but less is known about the quality of a student's sleep. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the subjective sleep quality and quantity of US medical students and to identify differences in sleep characteristics across demographic groups.

  • Self-care of women enrolled in health service psychology programs: A concept mapping approach Professional Psychology Research and Practice
    Erin Ayala, Amanda L. Almond


    As increasing numbers of women pursue degrees in health service psychology, it is important to understand what they do to promote their wellness in light of the psychosocial stressors associated with doctoral studies. The purpose of this investigation was to identify and conceptualize a diverse range of health promotion behaviors through the application of a mixed methods concept mapping design. Twelve participants sorted qualitative responses from 390 women in health service psychology pertaining to their personal self-care behaviors, resulting in a list of 112 “moderately” to “extremely” important self-care behaviors. Six clusters of self-care activities emerged: physical wellness, relaxation and stress management, hobbies, interpersonal relations, self-compassion, and outdoor recreation. The concept map depicts the interrelatedness of self-care behaviors that were rated as important by women. Women in health service psychology programs can use these behaviors, some of which have not previously been included on self-care inventories and checklists, to promote their physical, psychological, and spiritual health.

  • Women in Health Service Psychology Programs: Stress, Self-Care, and Quality of Life Training and Education in Professional Psychology
    Erin Ayala, Michael V. Ellis, Nicholas Grudev, Jennifer Cole


    Due in part to gender roles and their socialization as caretakers, women in health service psychology (HSP) programs may be vulnerable to experiencing stressful events that negatively impact their professional and academic functioning. Two constructs are particularly germane to understanding the stress experienced by women in HSP programs: quality of life and self-care. However, scant literature exists on women in HSP programs, especially concerning the relations among stress, self-care, and quality of life. The purpose of our study was to address some of the conceptual–methodological deficiencies in the literature by empirically testing the application of the health promotion model to women in HSP doctoral programs. The investigation tested the extent to which self-care activities moderated the negative association between stress and quality of life (QL) in a sample of 558 women enrolled in HSP programs throughout the United States. The most salient findings were (a) women in HSP programs, compared to other populations, evidenced substantively higher stress levels and lower self-care and overall QL; (b) stress was uniquely and inversely, though modestly, related to QL, whereas self-care and its moderating effects were not; and (c) self-care and quality of life were best conceptualized and analyzed as multidimensional constructs. The findings suggest stress levels may have a significantly larger effect on QL than self-care for women in HSP doctoral programs. Results also suggest QL and self-care are multidimensional constructs and need to be analyzed as such. Implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.