Faculty & Staff

Ester Shapiro, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts


photo of Ester Shapiro

Areas of Expertise

Clinical psychology; family life cycle transitions; family development


PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Additional Information

Office Hours: By appointment

At the University of Massachusetts Boston, Ester Shapiro, PhD (aka Ester Rebeca Shapiro Rok) is associate professor of psychology, a research associate for the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, and the director of the Community Engagement Core at UMass Boston’s HORIZON Center, a Center of Excellence in reducing minority health disparities. A Cuban Jewish Eastern European immigrant, she is committed to helping all families make the most of their opportunities for improving life chances even when facing adversity and loss. Her teaching, research and practice applies a cultural and ecosystemic approach to understanding and facilitating positive outcomes during family life cycle transitions by reducing stressors and mobilizing resources linking individual, family and social/community change. She wrote Grief as a Family Process: A Developmental Approach to Clinical Practice (Guilford, 1994; 2nd edition forthcoming) and was Coordinating Editor of Nuestros Cuerpos Nuestras Vidas (Seven Stories 2000), the Spanish transcultural adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She has published and presented extensively on a sociocultural model of family development, child and adult bereavement as a family process, culture and grief, and designing and evaluating interventions that build resilience among urban, diverse children, adolescents, adults and families. Professor Shapiro has also published personal narratives about the impact of multiple immigrations on development in her own Cuban Jewish family, and is writing a memoir with recipes. She directs the Health Promotion Research group, which uses ecosystemic models and multi-method research to partner with individuals and communities most directly impacted by social inequality to identify culturally meaningful resources for health promotion, resilience and recovery. Current projects include impact of intensified immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant attitudes on mental health and resource use by immigrants; Mental Health Resources for Success for diverse students at UMass Boston; and community engagement in community-based participatory research (CBPR).