Shakti = Empowerment
Disaster Shakti is a volunteer team of doctoral clinical psychology students who use their education to reach out to disaster survivors. Trained in multicultural counseling competencies, the team affirms the resilience of survivors and empowers them to take care of their well-being, health and stress management, coping, and problem-solving. While participating in the resilience promotion of survivors, clinical students gain experience in social justice outreach.
Antioch University New England’s Disaster Recovery outreach was initiated in spring 2005, soon after the tsunami disaster occurred in Southeast and South Asia. In the summer of 2005, Gargi Roysircar and a team of Antioch University New England students traveled to India to engage in tsunami recovery work. While in India, Dr. Roysircar held discussions with social workers and community counselors in Tamilnadu, India, and reached consensus that the name Shakti, which means empowerment in several Indian languages, was an appropriate way to describe the wellness orientation of the work the team was doing in India.
Disaster Shakti designs and implements social justice outreach to disaster-affected communities. Prior to project implementation, student volunteers engage in discussions regarding the needs of people impacted by disasters. The discussions are related to the culture, social class, race, and resource access of a destroyed community. Training and scholarship provide preparation for a particular project and for outcome assessment.
- Increase knowledge related to the development and prevention of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in communities affected by disasters.
- Increase knowledge related to the effects of culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and socioeconomic status on how communities respond to trauma.
- Engage in multiculturally competent outreach over a multiyear period.
- Collaborate with community leaders, non-governmental agencies, grassroots organizations, universities, or schools in disaster-affected areas and provide assistance in whatever ways needed by stakeholders.
- Design and implement psychoeducational activities that aim to enhance resilience, strength, hope, and recovery.
- Increase knowledge about the mental health and self-care of disaster volunteers through ongoing self-assessment by Shakti team members of their reactions to relief work at disaster sites. Results of self-assessment facilitate Disaster Shakti’s volunteer training, as well as provide useful information on volunteer self-care.
- Disaster 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. Learn more about the Katrina Recovery Project.