Dr. Shaifali Sandhya
Life-Coaching and Intercultural Relationships
LET'S START A CONVERSATION
WOMEN'S HEALTH AND WELLNESS
At home, work or in relationships women of all backgrounds and ages encounter complex challenges in many areas of their life that are different and unique from men.
Our female clients come from a range of diverse backgrounds: academia, medicine, home-makers, law, sales, and business. I have worked with individuals in diverse organizations/industries such as, but not limited to, Google, McKinsey, Salesforce, Morningstar, Apple, Northern Trust, HSBC, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Winston and Strawn, Baker McKenzie, Northwestern University, Depaul University, The University of Chicago, amongst others. We provide comprehensive mental health care with uniquely tailored sessions designed to articulate angst into tangible goals or alleviate toxic patterns to inspire personal growth.
We address the concerns like:
Stress (arising from burnout and/or going through transitions)
Self-esteem (such as: positive body image or positive self-worth after a break-up)
Depression (including perinatal depression)
Anxiety (including, related to political uncertainty such as undocumented status, deportation of a family member or one's ethnic status)
Impulse-control (challenges like trichotillomania, hair-pulling)
Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia)
Grief, loss, and bereavement
Trauma (Sexual trauma, rape and assault; psychotherapy with adults who are survivors of child sexual abuse)
Illness (Parkinson's, Cancer, etc) for patients and caregivers
Identity concerns (gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual individuals)
Phobias, panic attacks and fears (such as those of painful sex or vaginismus, a condition that affects a woman's ability to engage in sexual intercourse)
Premarital, marital, and relationship counseling (for: invitro fertilization; egg donor assessment; sexual dysfunction; communication and intimacy)
Critical incident stress management (natural death, accidental death of a loved one, suicide, workplace violence, natural disaster, and environmental catastrophes)
Some challenges that confront women range from: how to maintain a work-relationship balance; understanding and accepting their trade-offs, navigating politics at work, managing their relationship with their partner and children, dealing with particularly stressful periods of their life with equanimity, grace, and balance, or turning them around into life adventures for greater joy.
The therapeutic space can allow women to explore the depth of their inner worlds without judgment, pressure and pull to conform to others' expectations at the cost of sacrificing their important needs. It can also provide them with the space to experience access and intimacy with themselves, heal, the skills of communication to voice their thoughts and feelings in constructive ways. The sessions take place in a confidential and empathic environment to allow for deep inner dialog and meditative space with one-self.
Unique Stressors for Women
Women's unique stressors impacts their mental health in different ways as that experienced by men. For example, consider the following statistics:
Women are two times more likely than men to be depressed and girls are seven times more likely than boys to be depressed
Girls and women are also roughly nine times more likely to have eating disorders than boys and men
Compared with men, women are two to three times more likely to experience many types of anxiety disorders
Women of color are more likely to receive only psychopharmacological (drug/medicine) treatment rather than psychotherapy
Women's concerns may arise from a variety of other sources (illustrated through clinical vignettes below with changed identities), such as from their myriad interactions related to their partners, relationships, pregnancy and infertility, trauma, gender identity, body/self-image concerns, divorce, immigration, or life-cycle at various stages of their lives.
At CARE, we offer long-term, tailor made and sustainable improvement with your collaboration to making you feel whole again:
Overcome dysfunctional thought patterns that keep you thinking in loops
Determine your level of emotional intelligence
Sharpen your intuition and self-awareness
Gain more control over how you think, feel and behave
Give you tools to boost your mental health
Manage your micro-behaviors (micro messages that you may subconsciously emit, such as posture, tone, facial expressions, posture, words, and so forth that are often at the root of whether people around you feel close to you or excluded from you)
CARE Family Consultation, we will work collaboratively to create ways for you to remain engaged in your professional and personal growth; developing or maintaining your identity during your change towards the best decision through greater awareness and education of your emotions, psychological processes and history. I adopt a holistic and systemic approach for the wellness of women that respects your uniqueness, religion, family, and culture.
Lori: Sexual Coercion
"Do you think it was sexual assault?", asks Lori, of an event that occurred five years prior when she was a senior in college with someone who was her boyfriend of three months. "I feel I am being dramatic by thinking of it as sexual assault," she shares. "When I think of sexual assault, I think of a woman screaming 'no' and the man still having sex, and I've never thought of it as something that occurred within the confines of an intimate relationship." Through therapy Lori explores how coercive sex can be sexual aggression within established intimate relationships. Coerced sexual behavior, she learns through established research, occurs more frequently than forcible sexual assault, and it may involve repetitive pressuring of an individual who is resisting sexual activity until he or she consents, often to end the coercive behavior or preserve the relationship. Validating her past experiences of sexual trauma by preventing secrecy and silence around them, allows her to embrace the road to her future healing.
--Lori, 26-year old, Indian-American
Lauren: Enhancing Self-Worth
"The year I crashed with depression was the darkest year. I was operating as a subhuman. My memory went to shit. I became a different person. I was trying so hard to distract myself from getting tangled in ruminative thoughts that would spiral me into despair. I would sit with a book and could not turn the page as my mind would wander off. I couldn't talk to my family. My parents would say something to me that would hurt me to push or provoke me out of the depression. Dad was clueless. When I told him I was depressed, he said, 'You're fine.' I would ask mom to tell me one thing that was good about me that could cheer me up sometimes, and she would say, 'You're a good student.' She was not trying to be cruel but she couldn't understand. Medical school was rough with a general understanding that if you had depression you either dropped out or took a year off. It was a very, very awful time."
— Lauren, 25-year old, Caucasian Medical Student
Sandra: Realizing Perinatal Depression is More than Baby-Blues
A month following her pregnancy, Sandra began to feel an increasing "loss of connection" with her baby. Alongside of that, she also experienced a loss of energy or concentration, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and feelings of worthlessness that she was not "fit to be a mom." Most new mothers can experience worry, disappointment, guilt, competition, frustration, and even anger and fear but Sandra is a successful professional and never thought of herself as a candidate for maternal depression. Sandra was discovering that as a new mother, motherhood was not everything she had expected it to be. Her partner wondered if her irritability was part of the normal baby blues that new moms experienced or if her terrifying visions that she would harm her baby and herself, had a clinical basis. The couple sought depression screening and psychotherapy to gain clarity, coping mechanisms for stress, so that Sandra would feel confident in her ability to take care of her baby.
— Sandra, 30 years old, Polish-American, New Mom
Rachel: Managing Anxiety and Attention Deficit Disorder
"I'm very dependent on plans and schedules. I don't like loose ends. I don't like the sound of people chewing. I don't like people who are late. I don't like people who don't know me touching me. I don't like why I'm anxious or what to do about it. I don't like it when people tell me 'stop worrying' because if I could've, I would've....I tell myself 'You've got to stop crying all the time.' I want to get better."
— Rachel, 20-year old, Caucasian, University Senior
Kristen: Repairing Towards Positive Body Image
"I feel more judged in college than high school and feel more anxiety in large groups of people. I compare myself to other women in my sorority all the time. I have a lot of paranoia and don't trust anyone - my parents or friends...With my boyfriend I fear how genuine his feelings are towards me....When I am stressed I will avoid eating food for days or eat unhealthily like gorging pizza in the middle of the night or not leave my room thinking everyone is staring at me..."
— Kristen, 19 years old, Caucasian, University Sophmore
Gayle: Coping with Past Sexual Trauma
"In 2001 when I was barely out of college, I was introduced to John by some colleagues. He offered to help look over my applications for career opportunities. Little did I realize I was going to be fresh meat for him. In the months that followed, John I discovered was a sexual predator; he made me do sexual things that I did not want to do. I was used for many months and during that time it felt like I lost the will to react, to feel, to care and to live. After John was done with me, I did not care what happened to me. Through therapy I want to regain my will to care and to live my hopes once again."
— 34-year old, Caucasian, Artist
Iman: Seeking a Nonreactive and Authentic Communication in her Marriage
"We are a Muslim couple that has been married for five years with one child. Our relationship has been plagued from misunderstanding and miscommunications right from its start. At first we thought it was our strong personalities and different expectations and that our relationship was just a work in progress, that things would ease themselves out eventually... Over these years, we have tried to connect but end up being fixated on what he or I did wrong in the past, how it happened and why it happened without not only resolving the issue at hand but also dredging up old issues... We have also tried pushing things under the rug but that has not worked...Our last argument dragged our families into it that resulted in a family sit-down where everyone got involved with emotions that ran high...as for the issue, not a dent was made on it."
— Iman, 38-year old, Muslim, Cardiologist
Natasha: Grief Counseling for an African-American Mom
Natasha has been a pediatric Emergency Room nurse and has devoted her life to treating low-income patients for 40 years. "Last week my daughter who had just graduated from college with honors was a victim of a hit and run accident. I am swimming in grief and want to learn how to get out of bed to care for other people in my life."
— Natasha, 58 years old, ER nurse
Stephanie: Reading Red Flags in Relationships
"When I first Matt two years ago, he was smart, funny and charming, and recently single. We drifted into a physical relationship but it was like a yo-yo as he kept going back to his ex-girlfriend. He also had a drinking issue and would finish a 12-pack each night, would want to drink even before we went out anywhere...In the back of my mind, I would wonder 'Is he an alcoholic?' dismissing his coke habit in high-school, how he had introduced heroin to his buddies justifying addiction as something he had struggled with a 'long time ago.' When he's happy, he drinks; when he's upset, he drinks. When I would tell him I wanted to be in a serious relationship with him, he would say, 'Quit pushing. Quit rushing.' That I long to be special to a guy made me ignore the red flags that were staring at me in my face."
— Stephanie, 36-year old Caucasian, Executive, Chicago
Nissa: Navigating Challenges as a Foreign International Student
"It is hard being a single professional woman in Saudi Arabia, and I always told my father that 'if I get a fellowship, I will go to the US,' but he never believed me. With the letter arrived a fellowship offer from a US University, but everyone still thought I was kidding. My father was scared and said to me, 'Girls are better married off than working. If you leave for America, your chances that someone will marry you will be gone.' I had made a resolve to come to the US. The last year was the hardest time of my life. I feel people can tend to see me in three ways - either I'm a terrorist or I come from a super rich background Aladdin's Cave or I've been a repressed and subjugated woman. I am struggling more compared to my colleagues, have had health issues like ulcers and panic attacks, have had to repeat a class, and worry that if I don't take the required credit hours, my student visa will no longer be valid. I wake up with chronic anxiety that I've made a horrible mistake and there is no way out."
— Nissa, 29-year MBA Student, Muslim, Saudi Arabia
Nadine: Caring For A Long-Distance Marriage and Mental Health Of a Loved One
"Shortly after our wedding, his job required him to be in another city and we started commuting once a month. We had thought this was going to be a temporary arrangement and when he found his assignment had been extended to another year, he started slipping into a negative mood. in the last month, he's barely talked to me, when he does his voice is cold, flat and distant. I visited him but we did not talk about any stuff that we should have talked about. He puts his headphones on and doesn't want to talk. We let it go because we did not want our time together to be soured. Finally, as I was leaving, I asked him, 'What's going on? You're not even looking at me..' At this he said to me, 'I woke up one day and didn't feel anything towards you. I don't feel any attraction towards you.' I started crying and got very emotional. I asked him, 'Do you still love me?' and he replied, 'No. I feel nothing.' Then a few days later, he texted me and said, 'I am attracted to someone else.'"
— 28-year old Nadine, Egyptian Muslim, Periodontist
Elizabeth: How to Terminate An Affair
Married for a decade, Elizabeth has had an affair for eight of those years. Elizabeth is charismatic, successful, and has a vast network of social acquaintances "but I feel as out of control as a 16-year old." "When the affair with Stuart started, I thought it was going to be a short fling." Stuart was her colleague, and married with children. Elizabeth found herself succumbing to Stuart's cool charms despite the best of her intentions and in spite of his disregard for her, found herself in a long-term affair with him. In therapy Elizabeth seeks to figure out "what's fixable" in her life, the reasons why she stumbled into a toxic relationship that has left her empty, and to understand her needs independent of the men in her life.
— 51-years old, Business Consultant
Cortney: Single Mom Struggling with Divorce and Fearful of Believing in Herself
"How do you end up 48-years old and feeling like a child? In my marriage I let fear control me and find myself getting trapped in my need to depend on others. As a result I let others also control me for I was afraid that I didn't have the right to exert my wishes and expectations, and that I was wrong. I did what others told me to do because it was easier and also I was not used to making my own decisions. I don't trust my decisions. I am constantly second-guessing myself. In therapy I am seeking to understand what part of my self am I responsible for and what part is shaped by my environment?"
— 47-year old, Single Mom, Italian-American, Home-maker
Marcela: Struggling with a Cancer Scare, Preemie Baby, Cesarean and Pregnancy Trauma
Marcela, 30-years old, Caucasian had done everything way in advance in preparation for pregnancy: she and her husband had installed the car seat, they had taken several baby 101 classes for expectant parents such as CPR, understanding sudden infant death syndrome, prepared the nursery, but still they were unprepared for the extreme contractions that began 10 weeks ahead of when they were supposed to. When Marcela was rushed to the hospital, a cancerous growth on her cervix triggered a cesarean. Her baby boy, Evan was born small and sick with heart and breathing problems was sent to the newborn intensive car unit. "Marcela is crying uncontrollably," shared her husband. "Nothing cheers her up" and she is "not talking to her best girlfriend or anyone." The couple seek therapy for postpartum therapy so "that Marcela can heal and feel whole again."
--45-year old, Colombian-American, Pharmacist
Psychological Treatment PostPartum Health For New Moms in Chicago
New stages in a woman's life such as becoming a mother can herald turbulent physical and psychological changes. Being pregnant with a baby is as much about the process of birthing as it is about the birth of a mother. It triggers new identity shifts that might have to do with: your relationship with your parents, the hopes (And fears) you may have for your child; it can bring about changes in your significant relationships - friends, partners, spouse, and family. Society generally looks at how new mothers ought to behave and feel but seldom understands their worry, frustration, anger, fears and guilt. Underdiagnosed and misunderstood when it is not addressed and treated, it can impact a woman's life for a long time. Many new moms no latter how independent, successful or strong can struggle with the transition to motherhood and the changes to their new identity this can bring about.