In our NYC practice, we are lucky to have Dr. Kiran Arora whose expertise, personal experience and passion helps guide our therapy with South Asian (which can include Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Bhutani, Maldivian, Sri Lankan or a more fluid understanding of South Asian-identified) clients. Kiran has presented nationally and internationally on the connection between trauma and oppression in communities of color. She works across a broad range of issues with clients–offering individual therapy, couples therapy and family therapy–who identify with some values or aspects of South Asian cultures. Not only relying on Kiran’s individual knowledge, all of our therapists are committed to meeting the needs of our South Asian clients in individual therapy, family therapy, therapy for kids and teens and couples and marriage therapy, including interracial and multicultural couples.
The sociopolitical world has a significant impact on our psychological and relational health. Social issues play a large and important role in our lives. Diversities such as race, ethnicity, and gender create special circumstances that inform our overall health and relationships. It is critical that our therapists fully honor and engage with this context in our NYC therapy office.
In particular, issues relevant to the South Asian communities have gone underserved in psychotherapy. South Asian communities need attention and critical representation in the broader discourse of individuals, couple and family therapy. Issues such as mental illness, parenting challenges, job loss, couple conflict, and family responsibilities, all of which can benefit from therapy, take into account the person’s broader culture.
Individual therapy with South Asians
What do we need to feel a supportive, comforting sense of belonging? For many South Asian individuals–whether Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Bhutani, Maldivian or Sri Lankan, finding a concrete sense of belonging is inexorably tied to experiences of migration. For others, intergenerational relationships between first, second, third (and beyond) generations of immigrants can create their own complex definitions of home and belonging. How do you belong with your grandparents while still feeling as if you belong in your workplace or in your multicultural partnership? Where do you define and build a home?
Healthy development requires having a sense of our cultural identities, as well as a sense of belonging and homeplace. Sometimes this can be compromised as we feel we are caught between two worlds. There can be conflicting messages from our families and from the outside world in regards to what our lives are suppose to look like. Therapy can help us look at conflicting cultural values by allowing us the space to slow down and sift through the varying familial, cultural, social and even, political pressures that we confront on a daily basis. It can be useful to look at how our lives are affected by what might look to us like competing values.
Couples and marriage therapy with South Asian families and mixed-race families
Every relationship has its ups and downs. For South Asian couples, multicultural and interracial couples, there can be some tensions regarding dating and choosing partners as it may not necessarily fit with cultural norms expressed by our families. Issues of different racial or ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, child rearing practices, and sexual and intimacy issues, can put a strain on relationships. Each person has traveled a different path and sometimes these paths need to be looked at more closely in order for couples to figure out how they want to be together, to live their best lives together.
Family therapy with South Asian Families and blended families
For many South Asian families, including adult families, therapy can seem intimidating. Will therapists understand the issues specific to South Asian family dynamics? Will they understand the nuances of the intergenerational relationships? Will they understand the fluidity of culture–that a South Asian individual from Texas will have a different lived experienced than a South Asian family in New York?
We don’t treat our clients based on a generic idea of normal in our practice. Instead, we look at each individual, couple, and family’s unique culture and configuration. We discover together with our clients how we can draw on these resources. Transnational, blended and multicultural families have their own set of challenges and resiliences, as well as belong to a broader cultural context that is important to consider.