DR. SHAIFALI SANDHYA

405 N. Wabash

Chicago, IL 60611

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Call: 773-800-0170​

PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

Is your child experiencing stress or worry? Whether it is the fear of being rejected. not being included by friends,' coping with parents' divorce, or dealing with a difficult sibling, childhood is full of complex problems. Navigating this complex and sometimes, treacherous world of mean kids, spitting, sadness, homework, grades, problem siblings, stubborn parents, from a child's view point, can be hard. Children are curious and they want to be engaged in a stimulating environment to learn about themselves but even for the best of kids it is hard to navigate the challenges of their worlds. And certainly new challenges of childhood abound and are piling up- bullying, peers vaping or juuling, and so forth. When they are faced with challenges without an adequate means of articulating themselves, emotional difficulties can express themselves in a variety of ways. 

Dr. Sandhya offers psychotherapy to children attending schools in the Chicagoland area such as Francis Parker, Francis Xavier, University of Chicago Lab Schools, Saint Ignatius College Prep, Gem World Academy, and others. She offers individual treatment and parent-child treatment for adolescents, as well as individual parent consultation meetings for a range of mental health concerns, such as:

  •     Bullying    

  •     Emotion Regulation 

  •     Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)  

  •     Panic Attacks  

  •     Social Phobia  

  •     Depression  

  •     Peer Relations

  •     School Performance and Anxiety

  •     Sexual Identity

  •     Trauma

  • ​    Post-traumatic stress disorder​

  •     Sibling Rivalry

  •     Parents' Divorce​

Early intervention is key to the successful adjustment, identity development and interpersonal health of your child. Anxiety disorders for example, often go untreated while children suffer, as anxiety can be missed or misinterpreted in children and teenagers. It can be misdiagnosed as "bad behavior" "being argumentative" or "attention-seeking behavior" or "having a temper tantrum" or a phase that needs to be outgrown by your child. Untreated medical problems can become severe issues in children. In children who are ostracized given their gender identity, for example, experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicides and suicide attempts. 

 

At CARE, we recognize the rich, deep and expansive inner world of your  child. We treat your child and their concerns with sensitivity and respect. We provide core mental health life skills for your children to succeed in a complex world; such skills will continue to prove handy as they grow and prepare for many other transitions in their life, successfully. We offer sessions focusing on a variety of mental health strategies for children to discover more about their inner lives and communicate their needs in constructive ways. 

Vignettes

Morgan: Stress Due to Panic Attacks

Morgan is 14-years old and recalls, her first panic attack when she was 6 years old. At that time, she did not recognize it as that. She recalls having chronic headaches and throwing things about and generally, "being very bad." Her mom recalls her being "very frustrated  with daily activities" and "uncontrollable crying." Being in unpredictable situations made Morgan very frustrated and she sought therapy for the full-blown hyperventilation attacks she had been suffering from in the last few years. In therapy, Morgan seeks to understand how to manage her stress better, to communicate better, juggling her homework with her hobbies, and to find her own solutions to managing her anxiety better. 

14-years old, Female, Freshman

Haley: I'm a Girl but I think I was meant to be a Boy"

Haley is 11 years old, good at school with grades usually in the A range. Recently, Haley has started to question her sexual identity and told her parents that although she was born in a female body she didn't "feel like a girl." Haley reports that she started to feel "different" when she was 8 years old but "hid her feelings from everyone." Haley's parents are going through a difficult time with her father's alcoholism a source of many recent arguments. Haley's mother seeks therapy for Haley to determine whether it is the challenges of adolescence or whether Haley is struggling with "something more biological." She is concerned about Haley making a decision "that could impact her for the rest of her life," and feels that if Haley is indeed transgender, "how to equip myself with knowledge of the next steps in accessing care, knowledge and support for transgender children." 

Haley, 11-years old, sixth grade

Lola: "I want those thoughts to never come back"

When Lola was 10-years old, her best friend Abigail started to pull away from her. As she was Lola's only friend and one whom she had known since kindergarten. She tried to make Abigail laugh, ply her with gifts, and talk to her. She wanted to ask Abigail "why" they couldn't be friends, but over time Abigail's treatment of Lola became more mean. Other class mates noticing Lola's frustration started to make fun of her and bully her. At first Lola was confused, then bewildered and scared. One day at school, "I started to think of hurting myself," shares Lola. Nights were the worse for Lola, as she couldn't fall asleep so engrossed was she with thoughts of hurting herself. As those awful thoughts started to build, her grades began to suffer and she could not share this with her mom as she thought "my mom would be mad at me for losing my friend." Lola's goals in therapy are: "I want those thoughts to never come back," to find some coping mechanisms, and to read more Harry Potter books. 

Lola, 10-years old, fifth grade

Mikey: "I am making careless mistakes"

Mikey is in 6th grade and when his grades started to dip, his parents worried that he was making careless mistakes by not reading questions properly, leaving questions unanswered on his weekly quizzes, or leaving the reverse side of the form unanswered. Mikey was easily distracted, got bored of activities, and his mind seemed to be "elsewhere" so questions needed to be repeated to him. In therapy, Mikey's goals are understanding the source of his "muddleness," good time management, and skill-building in better organization. 

 

Mikey, 11-years old 

Trauma-Exposed Children and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

We may want to protect our children from trauma, however, childhood today can be rife with complex and hard trauma ranging from bullying, victimization, natural disasters, shootings, death of a loved one, and so forth. Research on children documents that 40-75% of children experience a traumatic event before they reach the ages of 16-18-years; approximately, 14% of them will develop post-traumatic stress reactions to their trauma. 

Children can be exposed to two types of trauma situations. Event trauma is circumscribed in time and space, for example rape, sexual assault, police atrocity, hurricane. Process trauma is ongoing exposure to relentless stressors such as child maltreatment and ongoing neglect. When children undergo repeated exposure to trauma beginning in childhood and continuing as adults, it is referred to as Complex trauma. 

In the face of trauma, children are uniquely vulnerable as they lack adequate and mature adaptive strategies and their cognitive and emotional competencies are not developed. Not all children who experience traumaPsychological effects of trauma on children can range from anxiety, depression, acute stress disorder, identity conflict, inattention, somatic issues, affective dysregulation, to behavioral issues must be considered from the vantage point of family context, as well as the more encompassing social context within which the child lives.

 

Psychological consequences of trauma can spread throughout the family and the broader community as well. Clinical assessment and treatment of trauma will focus on critical elements elicited in the child and family assessment post-trauma, unique traits of the trauma situation, and demographic variables such as the influence of age, gender, race, medical and psychiatric history, and the child's duration of exposure to trauma, and so forth. 

Success of your child depends on key mental health skills

Any parent and teacher knows only too well that childhood is changing today. Childhood is fraught with worry and chaos – there is increased pressure on the young- such as cut-throat competition to succeed in school, interpersonal conflicts in peer-relationships and not the least or last, the angst of growing up. For parents, such stresses on your children when not understood and dealt with, can strip your child of natural and valuable assets: self-esteem, confidence, and resilience. For teachers, mental health worries can strip from your efforts, productivity and affect success in your classroom. Children need to be healthy in order to learn, grow, and lead productive lives. Mental health needs can also interfere with classroom learning and academic skills.

Mental health skills that provide your child with mindfulness and emotional intelligence can serve as buffers from depression, channel their anger in constructive ways, allow their creativity to flourish, and enhance their success in the classroom and beyond. We provide a mental-health skills based school curriculum for your children that shows them step-by-step on how to stop the negative cycles in their life, to be more energized, and how to immerse themselves in fulfilling activities.

 

Increased incidence of depression today in teenagers

Depression is one of the most common illnesses teenagers face. The high rate of suicide in depressed teenagers underscores the importance of all high school students receiving quality education about depression, learning that depression is a treatable medical illness, and implementing preventative mental health skills to boost their resilience. Depression deletes motivation and self-esteem, it can trap you in a vicious circle. Even though your child may want to escape how they’re feeling, it traps your child as it might feel impossible to drum up the energy to change. Using solution-focused therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and motivational interviewing, this class will help your child look at the negative beliefs they may hold about yourself and end the self-destructive patterns that sink him or her into further depression. It will help your child identify your strengths, recognize your depression triggers, and teach you new coping skills. 

Why Mental Health Skills?

 

Unhappy children and teenagers struggle to succeed, are more likely to be absent or suspended, and exhibit behavioral problems. Despite knowing their child well, parents and teachers can miss out the signs of depression, stress, and anxiety in their child, or not know how to deal with it. When depression is not understood and dealt with, it erodes your child’s confidence further and the resilience to successfully tackle future transitions in their life. Over time, such unresolved mental health needs strips children of resilience making them less likely to deal with in effective ways. Thus, mental health literacy during the critical adolescence period and understanding how to achieve mental strength becomes vital for health success of your child. Neuroscience research shows us that for lasting impact, learning such positive skills in life must start early. Nor do children do not have to be depressed in order to learn such skills and happy children can learn such preventative skills too; the sooner they learn, the more dividends they will reap with their investment in life-long mental health learning.

Give your child the gift of life-skills.

 

To schedule a consultation, call 773.800.0170 or email: sandhyaphd@gmail.com