The Support Group for Ethnic and Racial Diversity (SERD)

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SERD/Disaster Shakti Empowerment

The Support Group for Ethnic and Racial Diversity/Disaster Shakti (SERD/Shakti) in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England has student members who engage in community service.

SERD is an arm of the Multicultural Center for Research and Practice. The Director of the Multicultural Center, Gargi Roysircar, EdD, founded SERD/Shakti and supervises and trains student volunteers.


SERD/Shakti’s primary purpose is to promote multiculturalism in communities. Since 2004, it has an ongoing community service project with Keene Education’s ESOL program (i.e., English for Speakers of Other Languages). Since 2005, disaster recovery outreach trips have been made to communities affected by disasters, such as, Hurricane Katrina, and wide-spread trauma.

Students do outreach during regular academic sessions, in the summer, and during academic breaks.  Students are volunteers who bear their own travel expenses and receive marginal support from fundraising.

Students receive training for outreach projects. This training also includes conversations about diversity, identity, social class, race, ethnicity, and social justice issues of access, equity, and unequal privilege. These conversations are self-referenced or framed on personal observations.

SERD/Shakti students and Dr. Roysircar present nationally and locally on the benefits of SERD/Shakti activities;  they also do outcome research.


SERD/Shakti promotes multicultural sensitivity, community support, advocacy, education, and social justice-oriented outreach in communities for individuals and groups who come from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, class, and gender backgrounds.


  1. Forming connections with community leaders and local organizations (e.g. English as Second Language programs) that are committed to promoting diversity at systemic levels.
  2. Advocacy through students’ service learning projects in coursework and through volunteerism.
  3. Developing partnerships with the University of New Orleans, University of Florida, Charter Nelson School of New Orleans, and Hotel Monteleone of New Orleans to do Hurricane Katrina Relief Work.
  4. Educate the public on prevention outreach through events, such as the SERD/Shakti’s potluck gatherings, presentations at Keene State College Waging Peace Conference and the Elm City Rotary Club of Keene, and presenting research at national professional conferences of the American Psychological Association and the Cross-Cultural Winter Roundtable of Teacher’s College Columbia University.
  5. Contributing to the scholarly literature on social justice-oriented prevention outreach through research and program evaluation studies.


We offer conversation and friendship service to immigrants in Keene Education’s ESOL tutoring program. For the Katrina Recovery Project, Gargi Roysircar developed a manual, Disaster Recovery: Counseling Implications. SERD/Shakti students conduct workshops and small group discussions, using information from this manual, with community members, teachers, and nonprofessional helpers who live in a community that has experienced a disaster. SERD/Shakti students provide handouts from this manual that outline trauma responses and self-help interventions for individuals and groups, as well as play activities for children. SERD/Shakti students blog daily journal entries to reflect on their experiences in a disaster site and to bear testimony to the suffering and resilience of survivors.

Puerto Rico Fundraiser. SERD held an ethnic food and bake sale in response to Hurricane Maria’s Disaster in Puerto Rico. Proceeds ($300.00) were sent to a Puerto Rican family, whose home is uninhabitable. Brooklyn Alvarez, 2nd yr. PsyD, got in touch with the family and sent the donation through Paypal.

Advocacy for Conversation on Community and Law Enforcement Relations

Current SERD/Shakti Student Projects

Disaster Shakti in Haiti. On Dec 2015, Disaster Shakti joined  Global Trauma Research (GTR) Inc. in Croix-des-Bouquets (near Port-au-Prince), Haiti, to provide mental health training to Haitian medical providers, teachers, and religious leaders as well as facilitate a Christmas party for 350 school children.

2016 APA Presentation
The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Psychologists’ Responsibility for Human Rights and Mental Health

Symposium at the 2016 Columbia University Teachers College Roundtable
In February 2016, some students held a symposium on the Syrian refugee crisis to present an understanding of the psychological implications of this crisis for the Syrian people as well as for the countries surrounding Syria and in Europe taking in refugees. Haitian Religiousness and Children’s Resilience: HTP Drawing Assessments And Parent Focus Group Themes

Research for Publication

Some students are co-authors of empirical manuscripts that are being reviewed by peer-reviewed psychology journals as well as by international journals administered outside of the United States.

Roysircar, G., Colvin, K. F., Afolayan, A. G., Thompson, A., & Robertson, T. W. (2017). Haitian children’s resilience and vulnerability assessed with House-Tree-Person (HTP) drawings. Traumatology, 23(1) 68-81.

Roysircar, G., Thompson, A., & Boudreau, M. (2017).”Born Black and male”: Counseling leaders’ self-discovery of strengths. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 40, 343-372.

Roysircar, G., & Pignatiello, V. (2015). Counseling and psychotherapy in the USA: The story of Rolando. In R. Moodley, M. Sookoor, U. Gielen, & R. Wu (Eds.), Therapy without borders: International and cross-cultural case studies handbook. Alexandria (pp. 165-172). VA: ACA.

Roysircar, G., Podkova, M., & Pignatiello, V. (2013). Crisis intervention, social class, and counseling: Macrolevel disaster effects. In W. M. Liu (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of social class in counseling (pp.144-163). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Herzig, B. A., Roysircar, G., Kosyluk, K. A., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). American Muslim college students: The Impact of religiousness and stigma on active coping.  Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7, (1), 33-42.

Roysircar, G., Studeny, J., Rodgers, S., Lee-Barber, J. S., & Alves, M. (2017, submitted). Multicultural disparities in legal and mental health systems: A consideration and applications. The Scholar-Practitioner: Counseling and Professional Psychology.

Lanza, A., Roysircar, G., & Rodgers, S. (submitted, 2017). First responder mental health. Consideration of prevention, postvention, and treatment services. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice.

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