Morning Workshop 4

Inhabiting Multiple Worlds: Working with South Asian Immigrants with Mental Illness

Presented by: Rupa M. Khetarpal, MSW, LCSW


The growing South Asian population within the U.S has prompted the need to develop effective assessment strategies and treatment planning when working with South Asian consumers. This workshop will explore the impact of geography, historical roots, religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural identity issues of caste and class, and migration on shaping the South Asian identity in the U.S. The workshop will use case studies and a systemic approach to explore core values and beliefs that may guide the experience, attributed cultural meanings, and help seeking behaviors of South Asian consumers and their families. Participants will work through the challenges presented to identify appropriate assessment techniques that will enable effective support when working with this population.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:
1. Develop an increased understanding of contributing factors that comprise the South Asian identity.
2. Develop an increased awareness of some core values and beliefs that guide the experience of mental illness and help seeking behaviors with South Asian individuals and their families.
3. Identify and develop culturally appropriate assessment techniques with the problem-solving challenges that are presented.

Presenter Information

Rupa M. Khetarpal is a licensed clinical social worker and has her private practice in Morristown, New Jersey. Rupa was the former Director of the Cross Cultural Counseling Center, a mental health program for refugees and immigrants including survivors of torture, human trafficking, and domestic violence at the International Institute of New Jersey. Rupa is a trainer/consultant and trains mental health professionals in cultural competency and trauma response in NJ. She currently serves as a psychosocial consultant with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) providing psychosocial care to humanitarian workers departing and returning from conflict and disaster zones across the world. Rupa is also adjunct faculty at the School of Social work at Rutgers University and teaches MSW/Graduate students. She also serves on the Morris County Children’s Working Group Sub Committee, NJ and is a member of the United Way of Northern New Jersey ALICE Committee. Additionally, she has been serving on the South Asian Mental Health Awareness, NJ (SAMHAJ) Advisory Council for the past four years. She has recently received National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) and SAMHAJ’s “Outstanding Provider” Award for 2013.

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