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May 22, 2023

Live Therapy with Veena

“It's all my fault!”

The star of today’s 2-part podcast is Veena Mulchandani, a 28-year old certified Indian TEAM therapist who has just learned that her difficulties becoming pregnant result from an infection in one of her fallopian tubes. Veen feels devastated and fears that she might never be able to have a child. She also fears that her husband and extended family will judge and reject her, since there is so much pressure in Indian culture for women to have babies. And although she has many medical options, including IVF, she is intensely fearful that they might not be successful.

My beloved colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, will be my co-therapist for today’s session. Jill is the Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California ( Today you will hear part 1 (T = Testing and E = Empathy), and next week you will hear the exciting conclusion (A = Assessment of Resistance and M = Methods), along with some follow-up. Part 3 will be the Relapse Prevention Training we did one week after treating Veena.

Jill and I treated Veena in our Tuesday evening training group at Stanford. We feel that personal work is an essential part of the training of any therapist.

Veena with her two very beloved nephews who she considers being a mother to

T = Testing and E = Empathy

At the start of the session, we reviewed Veena's Brief Mood Survey just prior to the start of the session. You can review it if you click on it here.

Veena was tearful and said that to make matters worse, her mother has been recently diagnosed with brain cancer, and although she is doing “okay,” she is not doing “great.” Veena explained that she has always dreamed of being a mother, and feels like she is lettin down the many people who love her and want to see her have a baby.

She and her husband first talked about having children when Veena was 24, but they decided to defer that for a few years because of the intense demands of her graduate schooling. Now Veena is blaming herself, thinking she “should” have gotten pregnant when she was 24.

I mentioned to Veena that my parents tried but were unable to create a pregnancy, so they finally adopted 3 children. Then I came along unexpectedly, after they had given up.

I also said that I’ve treated many women who felt like they couldn’t become pregnant, who then became pregnant. You can listen to the dramatic podcasts featuring my session with Daisy and her husband, Zane (#79 and #80) as well as podcasts 268 and 269 featuring a session with Carly (Click here for list of podcasts with links). Both women became pregnant shortly after those sessions, and I hope we can do the same for Veena! However, the key is overcoming the tremendous despair, shame, anxiety, and disappointment that the woman feels, so that the body can heal and prepare for the pregnancy.

You can see Veenas partially completed Daily Mood Log if you click here. As you can see, her negative feelings are extreme, and she is telling herself that

  • I may never be a mother.

  • I will ruin Sumit’s (her husband’s) life with her.

  • My marriage may go “down the line” because of the absence of a kid.

  • It’s all my fault for postponing the pregnancy when I was 24.

  • My in-laws, who love me so much, may start ignoring me because I cannot give them an heir.

  • I will always be looked down on and sidelined by my own people.

  • My mother is ill, and I will not be a good daughter if I cannot give her a grandchild.

  • There is no meaning to life without children.

  • My own body cannot suffice for my baby.

Her belief in these thoughts ranged from 60 to 80 or more, and she rated most at 100%.

Veena with parents

I asked Veena how she was feeling after opening up in front of so many colleagues in the Tuesday group. She said she felt sensitive and exposed, and was afraid they don’t understand and will also judge her for not starting earlier with attempts to become pregnant.

Although we were still in the Empathy phase of the session, I suggested she might want to do an experiment to find out how they were feeling. Although this idea made her anxious, she asked quite a number of the Tuesday group members how they felt, and received an outpour of warmth, love, tenderness, and support.

We asked Veena how we were doing in terms of Empathy. Did we understand how she was thinking? How she was feeling inside? And did she feel accepted.

She gave us an A+, and so we were ready to move on to the A = Assessment of Resistance, which you will hear at the start of next week’s podcast.

Thank you for listening today!

Veena, Rhonda, Jill, and David