Promoting change through collaboration
Dr. Roysircar, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England, along with a team of psychology graduate students consulted with and trained counselors and mentors in Chennai, India, in recognizing signs of stress related to disaster experiences. Specific psychological approaches with orphaned children and adults who have lost families were addressed. The team taught local support staff about biopsychosocial risk factors that, if left unattended, could lead to serious health concerns.
Gargi Roysircar, Ed.D.
Professor of Clinical Psychology
Director of the Multicultural Center
Antioch University New England
AUNE Psychology Graduate Students
Mentoring Service for Orphans
Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu
State Counseling Service
Volunteer Teaching Organization
- Provide information on trauma and counseling for disaster survivors
- Consult with communities in distress
- Promote change through relationships with local organizations and stakeholders
July 19 – August 8, 2005
The American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization believe that current massive operations by international aid organizations and foreign governments need to move to the recovery phase and attend to survivors’ psychological needs. In tsunami humanitarian efforts, attending to survivors’ needs have shifted from crisis relief to health recovery.
Culturally-appropriate, early interventions that attend to psychological needs are known to aid in healing and rehabilitation. There is a call for prevention advocates of public health to go to tsunami-affected areas in small unobtrusive groups, in phases, with immense cultural respect and humility. Their goal is to draw on the existing response capacity and resilience of local communities. Dr. Gargi Roysircar, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Multicultural Center at Antioch University New England, has experience in serving at-risk individuals and groups through the use of cross-cultural and social justice perspectives. She and a small team of Antioch graduate students are traveling to Chennai, India, from July 19th to August 8th to provide psycho-social services to children and families who survived the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004.
The Antioch team will train and consult with counselors and mentors in recognizing signs of stress related to disaster experiences and in specific methods for working with orphaned children and adults who have lost families. They aim to teach counseling staff about risk factors for children and adults which, if left unattended, could lead to serious health concerns. Disasters affect entire communities as well as individuals. The team will also consult at the community level to improve understanding of community-wide stress reactions, to aid groups who may have been taken advantage of in emergency situations, and to ameliorate any resulting community discord and tension.
In addition, Dr. Roysircar and her student team will devote their first visit to Chennai to making connections and relationships with neighborhood and grassroots associations, mutual help organizations, and workplaces. They are collaborators seeking participation from within the local community to create and deliver resolutions meaningful to a specific locality. The team’s existing connections in Chennai include NalandaWay Foundation, a mentoring service for orphans living in villages; Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu, a public charitable trust; Pratham Learning, an organization of volunteers providing remedial education for children; and government officials administering government schools. The team hopes to promote change by strengthening these relationships and building new ones.
The three primary components of the proposed tsunami outreach are:
- Education on trauma and counseling skills specific to disaster work
- Consultation with communities in distress
- Promotion of change through relationships with local organizations and stakeholders.
Team members will do reflective writings on their experiences, findings, and impressions to aid in developing plans for future trips to Chennai.
During this first trip, the team will establish connections with organizations and communities, disseminate psychoeducational training materials, and teach specific play interventions for children.
Thank you for encouraging and supporting this vision to serve tsunami survivors in Chennai, India.