Dr. Shaifali Sandhya
Life-Coaching and Intercultural Relationships
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It all starts with the family. A loving, supportive, and validating family gives you a strong foundation for life. However, no family has a smooth sailing and family members can face a host of problems at different stages of a family's life. When a family member faces challenges, such as illness or disability, it can break down some families and it's impact can reverberate in family interactions for years to come. Family therapy is a method of understanding and treating emotional problems by working with the entire family rather than just an individual. Often times, the process of repairing a family can also begin with just one member alone. Family therapy can address concerns that have recently cropped up or long-standing challenges faced by one or several family members.
At CARE Family Consultation, we assist family members from diverse cultural backgrounds with needs for both short-term and/or long-term strategies and for the following concerns:
Communication challenges (blaming and critical behaviors)
Parent's illness or death
Parent's personality issues (anger, alcoholism, critical behaviors, and/or narcissism)
Divorce and separation
Parenting issues for same-sex couples
Relationship concerns (abuse; anger and neglect)
Alcoholism and substance-abuse
Family therapy during estate planning
Health planning with challenging parents/family dynamics
As Tolstoy said, "every unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way," each family can have a unique suffering. Not just that, each family member may experience their own unique grieving process and coping from the same crisis.
Every Family is Unique
There are many different reasons to begin therapy and there is no cookie-cutter form of intervention that works for everyone. There are certain red flags that may alert you to the need for family therapy. When a family member may cut off ties, there may be a feeling of unresolved tension ("an elephant in the room"), lingering resentments or corrosive comments may color negatively the family gatherings that were meant to be happy and carefree it might be a good time to seek family therapy.
At CARE, we treat families from all ethnic, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. We also treat both heterosexual and same-sex headed families and couples.
Unlearning Old Family Habits, Learning New Family Tools
Family therapy sessions focus on understanding individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behavior within the context of their families. It is important to harness and strengthen family resources and to help family members arrive at collaborative solutions. We collaborate in building an empathic and nurturing space and yet one that is structured to implement therapeutic family interventions. Reconditioning the family space allows for the use of a articulating new healthy goals for each family member. This safe space facilitates growth by further exploring your unconscious motivations, thoughts and feelings. Creating a safe space can also reveal self-sabotaging old behaviors, destructive thought patterns, harmful commitment issues, feelings of insecurity such as feeling ‘not feeling good enough’, or intimacy issues.
Our empirically based treatment interventions are individually tailored to match our patients' and family's unique needs. We address concerns of privacy along side of the necessary need for inner reflection by conducting sessions in a discrete and supportive environment to foster authentic communication. We can collaborate with your family members, wealth managers, tax attorneys and divorce attorneys to expedite agreements, treatment and enable positive communication in contexts of high strife, impasses and/or complex personalities.
At CARE, we practice a systemic family therapy approach to restore your sense of "family." Our approach is free of judgement, support, and emphasizes overall concern for each and every family member's well being.
We are available to assist you with consultations, crisis, interventions, and general therapy sessions. Please feel free to contact us by email or by telephone to assist you with any questions you might have. We look forward and welcome you in taking the first step to investing in building validating family relationships.
Dr. Sandhya has expertise in multicultural counseling and cross-cultural family relationships and will be leading these sessions. It is recommended that clients engage in twelve appointments to receive an optimal dose of coaching, preparation, and collaborative work. Please call 773.800.0170 for more information.
*names/identifying details have been changed
Sarah: Better Emotional Regulation Through Family Therapy
Sarah is a 13-year old Caucasian, heterosexual female who had a previous diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. She had difficulty interacting with her peers, felt like she was “different” from everyone around her, and had a history of binge eating when feeling stressed out or upset. Sarah also had a contentious relationship with her dad following his primary custody of her post-divorce. Their disagreements would culminate with both yelling or screaming at each other. Family therapy sessions assisted in: understanding the ramifications of the divorce on Sarah; clarifying and articulating Sarah's emotions and needs underlying her outbursts; and, in learning constructive coping skills to manage her negative emotions in more adaptive ways.
Ravi: The Suffering Indian Father Who Cannot Help But Blame, Yet Craves Family Happiness
"My father constantly tells me I'm not good enough to be his son," says Manav, Ravi's 17-years old son when his father is not present in the room. "He tells me you're an embarrassment for the family." Rahul describes a father who has been busy with his work life but seldom been around to engage with his two sons while they were growing up. "Every time I open my mouth I am blamed, shares Manav, who has learnt to shut himself off in his room, instead, playing video games.
Ravi, 50-years old, married for over two decades, grew up in India and arrived as an immigrant in the US. He has worked very hard to be a father who provided his sons a private education at good schools and a comfortable life for his family. He also reports strained relationships with his wife, saying "I feel my wife never connected with me." He is troubled that his sons view him as "abusive and controlling." Struggling with depression and hopelessness, Ravi's therapeutic goals are: preventing a further spiraling downhill of his family relationships, and working on family happiness. The family wished to deconstruct their old patterns to afford them newer opportunities to build new blocks for healthy relationships and a greater fulfilling life. Family therapy focused on drawing out the unique perspectives of each of their four family members to design a treatment plan for the family balancing their individual goals with the family goals of happiness.
Family Therapy With An Elderly Parent With Mistrust Issues
When Angela started to notice that her normally kind mother who was in her eighties first start to exhibit bouts of rage, initially she attributed it to her mom's hard life. Gradually, the rage filled tantrums escalated into a firmly held belief that others were deceiving her, harming her or harming someone she cared for. In those instances, no matter what evidence to the contrary anyone provided to her mother, the conviction that she was being harmed was unshakeable. These false perceptions were never sensory but always hard-to-shake beliefs. Also, Angela's mother seemed to exhibit a good memory. Delusions (firmly held beliefs in things that are not real) may occur in middle- to late-stage Alzheimer's. As mom became "impossible," 'verbally abusive," and her family became embroiled in vicious dynamics, Angela and her mother sought therapy to first, diagnose and then, disentangle the pernicious effects of dementia, Alzheimer's and depression to their therapy goal - "just bring about peace, happiness and stability in our home without medication." Therapy revealed factors behind Angela's mom's depression and dementia and provided the family with social skills to alleviate and manage the illness.
Rebuilding the Galvin Family: "We're Different But We Are Close - How Can We Listen Better To Each Other?"
It seemed like things progressively fell apart for the Galvins', an Irish-American family, after their mom passed away following a protracted struggle with cancer. In the three years that followed her death with cancer, the two siblings - Emma, 30-years and Jake, 26-years old drifted away - and their dad, 65-years old and a retired CEO took to alcohol. Things came to a head when one day inebriated, he got into his car, drove half-way across the state and found himself injured with no recollection of all that had transpired. Dad's alcoholism had progressively got worse after mom's death but prior, family issues had been "swept under the rug" shared Emma. Now, 30-years old and pregnant with her first child, she found herself "as the parent in this family" with an "intense fear of losing dad." Jake had been the primary care-giver for mom and as he had watched her deteriorate, he had lost interest in studies and sports in college. He dropped out of college and "failures stacked up." Jake "didn't know how to deal with failures and getting motivated" was very hard for him." He realized that for many years "problems got pushed away" and he also "feared that Emma and he would not be talking anymore if dad were to pass away." The dad, Mr. Galvin, shared in the first session, "This is the best year of my life. It wasn't easy to make the kids' lives perfect but I gave up a lot in order to do so. I don't want anyone to tell me what to do." Each family member it seemed, was on a different page in the first session. "We're different but we're close," shared the Galvins in their first meeting. "Yes we are not a perfect TV family but we want to walk-the-talk with each other. We want to become stronger as a family."
We offer marriage and family counseling in downtown Chicago. Our office is conveniently located in downtown Chicago and especially accessible for folks living and working in the Loop, South Loop, River North, Old Town, Lincoln Park and Near North neighborhoods of Chicago.