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Shaifali Sandhya

For the last 8 years I  have been interviewing people fleeing from their homes and heritage. My new book, "Displaced" by Oxford University Press is about their journeys of survival, setting up home in foreign lands, and fortitude in the face of unimaginable traumas. 


PHD, The University of Chicago

MA, The University of Cambridge


Dr. Sandhya's new book was released on March 11, 2024
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  • Builds on the knowledge of trauma through refugee experiences

  • Focuses on the cultural influences on trauma-informed assessment and treatment in clinics, camps, polyclinics, outpatient hospital settings, and other tertiary settings worldwide

  • Explores issues of secondary trauma and vicarious traumatization during and after "life on the compound"

  • Engages humanitarian professionals, agency heads, asylum attorneys, and clinical directors of international refugee organizations

Dr. Shaifali Sandhya is a US and UK-trained psychologist. She earned a PhD in Human Development and Psychology from The University of Chicago, US as a Mellon Fellow and an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK as a Cambridge Commonwealth Fellow and Rajiv Gandhi Fellow. As a professor of Clinical Psychology, Dr. Sandhya has taught courses on international mental health, gender, and health disparities in marginalized populations to doctoral students. The author and editor of research articles, books, and chapters, she has conducted interviews with the media and briefed state officials, local legislators, and federal judges to provide independent assessments of the social and mental health impacts on varied topics such as asylum and immigration, environmental resources, and community health. Dr. Sandhya's work has been featured in international media including the New York Times, Fox TV, CBS, US News and World Report, and National Public Radio. Dr. Sandhya is an expert couple and family therapist and an internationally acclaimed book author. Her previous book Love will Follow: Why the Indian Marriage is Burning was published by Penguin Random House.

Table of Contents

1. Our Refugee Crisis: Trauma, Integration and Resettlement
2. Trauma Beyond Borders: At Sea in the World
3. A White Coat or a White Heart?: The Methodology
4. Queen of Proofs and Kings of Torment: Psychological Sequelae of Torture
5. Enrique Iglesias Goes German: Identity Politics or Identity Repair?
6. Culture and Globalization in Post-Conflict Trauma Care
7. What's the Trouble with Mrs. Khaled?: Gender and Sexual Violence
8. Family Trauma: The Psychological Legacy of War
9. Mental Health and Integration: Structuring Refuge for Resettled Refugees
10. Best Practices in Traumatized Refugee Care: Ecology of Trauma-Informed and Cultural Health Interventions

Appendix: Quantitative Data on Anxiety and Depression Subscales

Book Description

Armed conflicts, natural disasters, poverty, and the pandemic have forced over 117 million people to abandon their homes and heritage. Surging pushbacks, protection gaps, and deportations precipitate refugees' exclusion from equitable economic, social, cultural, political, and reproductive rights, amplifying suffering. As such, displaced communities will shoulder a silent epidemic of posttraumatic stress as well as other debilitating ailments, which are often passed down to future generations. Host nations to which refugees flee do not always associate their psychological well-being with future self-sufficiency and potential for contributions to society, and humanitarian organizations seldom prioritize improved mental health outcomes for refugees. The toll of failing to elevate the importance of refugee mental health is immense, at both individual and societal scales.

Drawing on firsthand accounts and empirical research, as well as interviews with government officials, agency directors, and refugee camp managers, Displaced explores the psychological trauma of refugees, the complex interplay between trauma and integration into host nations, and the consequences of failing to attend to refugee mental health as part of comprehensive resettlement initiatives worldwide. Displaced utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to investigate various aspects of refugee trauma, including gender-specific experiences of war; trauma transmission within conflict-affected families; the mental health ramifications of human cruelty such as political torture; local expressions of refugee resilience and illness in their countries of origin; and the role of stereotypes, social categories, and transatlantic networks in shaping refugee identity and resilience.

Identifying key themes and resettlement processes of asylum frameworks in Germany, the US, the UK, and elsewhere, the book demonstrates how national policies can affect refugees' self-sufficiency and well-being in host societies, and the essential role of receiving nations in designing better opportunities for their access across vocational, educational, and social domains. Utilizing a systems-informed, evidence-based, and human-rights-oriented approach, Displaced also discusses trauma-informed treatments that may help improve refugee mental health outcomes and enhance inclusivity, along with prosperity for refugees and host nations alike.

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Lindsay M. Harris

Professor of Law

Director of the International Human Rights Clinic

University of San Francisco School of Law

Shaifali Sandhya undertakes the herculean task of helping us understand the relation between trauma and integration for refugee populations all over the world. She draws upon first-hand narratives from hundreds of refugees, but also skillfully weaves in statistics and historical context lacking from any single academic article in this sphere. Not afraid to also share her own clinical and personal experiences, she models the power in vulnerability and openness in our own responses to trauma and emotions that can pose challenges for those in the mental health, legal, and other helping professions. Dr. Sandhya promises a roadmap for countries, and local/regional bodies, and institutions to use in navigating how to respond to trauma in refugee populations. Above all, she emphasizes the enormous potential and value to our communities that refugees can bring if to properly supported and welcomed.


Ninette Kelley

People Forced to Flee:

History, Change and Challenge

In this insightful book, Shaifali Sandhya sheds light on a critical but often overlooked aspect of refugee well- well-being: mental health. Drawing from the lived experiences of refugees whose journeys have been shaped by suffering and resilience, Sandhya illustrates the importance of psychological well-being to their physical health, learning and employment. Importantly, the book offers valuable insights and actionable solutions on how to how strengthen refugee settlement services. It also provides a powerful reminder that in providing better care to refugees, we also strengthen our communities. 

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