Sheetal Vallabh

Clinical Psychologist & Divorce Mediator
Saxonwold, Johannesburg
BA (UCT); LLB (UCT); LLM (Communications Law) (Wits); MA (Clinical Psychology) (UCT)
Mobile Number: 083 544 3833
Oxford Healthcare Centre, 75 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg

I have a special interest in working with adults, adolescents, children and families who are going through a separation and/or divorce. This is a life-change that is stressful and can be traumatic on the couple separating, as well as on the children in the family. It is a loss that results in the members of the family experiencing a wide range of emotions. Left undealt with, difficult feelings such as sadness, anger, rage, vengefulness, guilt and resentment can have a detrimental effect on the person experiencing these feelings and on the family as a whole.

Individuals, couples and families who work through these natural feelings during the course of the separation and/or divorce are able to come through the experience with a renewed sense of hope for the future. Working through the difficult feelings helps prevent resentment and bitterness from building up and allows the person the opportunity to look forward to new possibilities and live more fully and meaningfully in the world.

Most importantly, when the separating couple is able to work through their separation and/or divorce in a healthy way, they protect their children from the adverse effects of the divorce and this allows the children to continue functioning well in their own lives and keeps the relationships in the family intact.

Therapeutic work

In the separation and divorce context my therapeutic work includes working with:

  • married individuals who are struggling to separate and/or divorce for whatever reason, and need support in ending their relationship with their partner or spouse;
  • adults who are going through or have been through a separation and/or divorce and are struggling to deal with the loss of a partner and marriage, and all the associated changes / disruptions that they are experiencing;
  • separating / divorcing parents to assist them with how to talk to their children about their separation and/or divorce;
  • parents, to help them to parent co-operatively post-separation and/or divorce and to manage any conflict between them appropriately;
  • children and adolescents of separation and/or divorce who are having to manage the loss of their parents’ marriage and associated changes such as, where they will live or go to school, and in some cases to help them cope with the acrimony between their parents;
  • families as a whole to help them come to terms with their loss and changing circumstances;
  • step-parents to assist them in negotiating the role of being a step-parent;
  • blended families to help them integrate as a family;
  • families post-divorce, to repair, reconstruct and restore relationships in the family, which are strained or very conflictual between the ex-couple, and/or between a parent and child(ren);
  • families where one parent is alienated from the child(ren), to heal the relationship between the parent and the child(ren) through a process that involves both parents understanding and changing the dynamic, which has led to the deterioration of the relationship between the one parent and the child(ren); and
  • groups of individuals in a support group who are going through or have through been through a separation and/or divorce.
    • Current groups:
      post-separation / divorce support group
      parenting post-separation / divorce

Family and Divorce Mediation

I am also an accredited family & divorce mediator. I practised as an attorney before qualifying as a clinical psychologist, and therefore I have a good understanding on the laws relating to children, especially the provisions of the Children’s Act, 2005. I work collaboratively in the mediation process with members of the legal profession and other mental health professionals in order to ensure that the needs of all the members of the family are met in a holistic way.

When parents decide to separate or divorce, I help them to resolve aspects related to the care and wellbeing of their children. I facilitate their decision-making by constantly drawing their attention to the psychological and developmental needs of each child in the family to ensure that the care and contact arrangements agreed to are in the best interests of each child. The parents’ agreements will be recorded in a parenting plan, which can be registered with the Family Advocate’s Office or made an order of court as part of the divorce settlement agreement.

During the process with the parents, I also meet with the children to ascertain their views and wishes in an age appropriate manner as mandated by the Children’s Act, 2005. The aim of the consultation with the child is to ascertain his / her experience of the world: what does it feel like to be this child, in this family, at this time. The parents will also be guided on how they can reduce the conflict between them and work towards a more cooperative way of co-parenting their children.

The overall aim in this process is to preserve and strengthen the relationships in the family, and to avoid the blaming, judging and criticising that often transpires in the litigious, adversarial system, which breaks down and damages relationships irrevocably.

Why involve children?

I involve children in the mediation process because research has shown that involving children in the separation and divorce process benefits children in the following ways:

  • it gives them the opportunity to be heard in a safe, neutral space by someone who has the expertise to understand their experience and their developmental needs;
  • children are the experts of their own lives. They know what works for them and what does not;
  • it is a cathartic experience to feel heard in a process, which largely excludes them;
  • it decreases the sense of the unknown and the uncertain, and consequently reduces anxiety and creates a feeling of calm and safety;
  • the children feel more able to trust that their parents hold them in mind and want what’s best for them;
  • it helps parents focus on their children’s needs and not just their own; and
  • it offers parents insight into their children’s experiences.

What are the outcomes of this child-inclusive process?

Research findings confirm my experience that:

  • parents and children are more satisfied with the parenting plan and therefore more willing to comply with its provisions;
  • parent-child relationships are strengthened;
  • conflict between ex-partners/spouses is reduced; and
  • the psychological and mental well-being of the parents and the children are improved.

Personal statement

I work in a manner that best serves the emotional wellbeing of my clients, within the professional and ethical rules and guidelines of my profession. My therapeutic and mediation work is informed and guided by sound theoretical underpinnings and best practices. I am committed to on-going training and supervision in the fields of clinical psychology and mediation. Ultimately, I aim to be present, open and compassionate to whatever my clients bring to the process.

Credentials

Qualifications:

  • BA (UCT)
  • LLB (UCT)
  • LLM (Communications Law) (Wits)
  • MA (Clinical Psychology) (UCT)

Further Training:

  • Intimate-Encounters: Parent-Child Psychotherapy
  • Family & Divorce Mediation (Basic-Advanced Training) (Family Zone, Johannesburg)
  • Child-Informed Family Dispute Resolution Training (Family Transitions, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Circle of Security International Parenting Training

Professional Memberships:

  • HPCSA registration number: PS 010849;
  • Practice number: 086 001 0412341
  • Accredited Mediator (South African Association of Mediators)
  • South African Psychoanalytic Confederation
  • Babies in Mind practitioner

Affiliations:

  • Co-facilitator Family and Divorce Mediation training, Family Life Centre in Parkwood
  • Founding member of the NGO, Lawyers against Abuse.
Categories List:      

Sheetal Vallabh

Clinical Psychologist & Divorce Mediator
Saxonwold, Johannesburg
BA (UCT); LLB (UCT); LLM (Communications Law) (Wits); MA (Clinical Psychology) (UCT)
Mobile Number: 083 544 3833
Oxford Healthcare Centre, 75 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg

I have a special interest in working with adults, adolescents, children and families who are going through a separation and/or divorce. This is a life-change that is stressful and can be traumatic on the couple separating, as well as on the children in the family. It is a loss that results in the members of the family experiencing a wide range of emotions. Left undealt with, difficult feelings such as sadness, anger, rage, vengefulness, guilt and resentment can have a detrimental effect on the person experiencing these feelings and on the family as a whole.

Individuals, couples and families who work through these natural feelings during the course of the separation and/or divorce are able to come through the experience with a renewed sense of hope for the future. Working through the difficult feelings helps prevent resentment and bitterness from building up and allows the person the opportunity to look forward to new possibilities and live more fully and meaningfully in the world.

Most importantly, when the separating couple is able to work through their separation and/or divorce in a healthy way, they protect their children from the adverse effects of the divorce and this allows the children to continue functioning well in their own lives and keeps the relationships in the family intact.

Therapeutic work

In the separation and divorce context my therapeutic work includes working with:

  • married individuals who are struggling to separate and/or divorce for whatever reason, and need support in ending their relationship with their partner or spouse;
  • adults who are going through or have been through a separation and/or divorce and are struggling to deal with the loss of a partner and marriage, and all the associated changes / disruptions that they are experiencing;
  • separating / divorcing parents to assist them with how to talk to their children about their separation and/or divorce;
  • parents, to help them to parent co-operatively post-separation and/or divorce and to manage any conflict between them appropriately;
  • children and adolescents of separation and/or divorce who are having to manage the loss of their parents’ marriage and associated changes such as, where they will live or go to school, and in some cases to help them cope with the acrimony between their parents;
  • families as a whole to help them come to terms with their loss and changing circumstances;
  • step-parents to assist them in negotiating the role of being a step-parent;
  • blended families to help them integrate as a family;
  • families post-divorce, to repair, reconstruct and restore relationships in the family, which are strained or very conflictual between the ex-couple, and/or between a parent and child(ren);
  • families where one parent is alienated from the child(ren), to heal the relationship between the parent and the child(ren) through a process that involves both parents understanding and changing the dynamic, which has led to the deterioration of the relationship between the one parent and the child(ren); and
  • groups of individuals in a support group who are going through or have through been through a separation and/or divorce.
    • Current groups:
      post-separation / divorce support group
      parenting post-separation / divorce

Family and Divorce Mediation

I am also an accredited family & divorce mediator. I practised as an attorney before qualifying as a clinical psychologist, and therefore I have a good understanding on the laws relating to children, especially the provisions of the Children’s Act, 2005. I work collaboratively in the mediation process with members of the legal profession and other mental health professionals in order to ensure that the needs of all the members of the family are met in a holistic way.

When parents decide to separate or divorce, I help them to resolve aspects related to the care and wellbeing of their children. I facilitate their decision-making by constantly drawing their attention to the psychological and developmental needs of each child in the family to ensure that the care and contact arrangements agreed to are in the best interests of each child. The parents’ agreements will be recorded in a parenting plan, which can be registered with the Family Advocate’s Office or made an order of court as part of the divorce settlement agreement.

During the process with the parents, I also meet with the children to ascertain their views and wishes in an age appropriate manner as mandated by the Children’s Act, 2005. The aim of the consultation with the child is to ascertain his / her experience of the world: what does it feel like to be this child, in this family, at this time. The parents will also be guided on how they can reduce the conflict between them and work towards a more cooperative way of co-parenting their children.

The overall aim in this process is to preserve and strengthen the relationships in the family, and to avoid the blaming, judging and criticising that often transpires in the litigious, adversarial system, which breaks down and damages relationships irrevocably.

Why involve children?

I involve children in the mediation process because research has shown that involving children in the separation and divorce process benefits children in the following ways:

  • it gives them the opportunity to be heard in a safe, neutral space by someone who has the expertise to understand their experience and their developmental needs;
  • children are the experts of their own lives. They know what works for them and what does not;
  • it is a cathartic experience to feel heard in a process, which largely excludes them;
  • it decreases the sense of the unknown and the uncertain, and consequently reduces anxiety and creates a feeling of calm and safety;
  • the children feel more able to trust that their parents hold them in mind and want what’s best for them;
  • it helps parents focus on their children’s needs and not just their own; and
  • it offers parents insight into their children’s experiences.

What are the outcomes of this child-inclusive process?

Research findings confirm my experience that:

  • parents and children are more satisfied with the parenting plan and therefore more willing to comply with its provisions;
  • parent-child relationships are strengthened;
  • conflict between ex-partners/spouses is reduced; and
  • the psychological and mental well-being of the parents and the children are improved.

Personal statement

I work in a manner that best serves the emotional wellbeing of my clients, within the professional and ethical rules and guidelines of my profession. My therapeutic and mediation work is informed and guided by sound theoretical underpinnings and best practices. I am committed to on-going training and supervision in the fields of clinical psychology and mediation. Ultimately, I aim to be present, open and compassionate to whatever my clients bring to the process.

Credentials

Qualifications:

  • BA (UCT)
  • LLB (UCT)
  • LLM (Communications Law) (Wits)
  • MA (Clinical Psychology) (UCT)

Further Training:

  • Intimate-Encounters: Parent-Child Psychotherapy
  • Family & Divorce Mediation (Basic-Advanced Training) (Family Zone, Johannesburg)
  • Child-Informed Family Dispute Resolution Training (Family Transitions, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Circle of Security International Parenting Training

Professional Memberships:

  • HPCSA registration number: PS 010849;
  • Practice number: 086 001 0412341
  • Accredited Mediator (South African Association of Mediators)
  • South African Psychoanalytic Confederation
  • Babies in Mind practitioner

Affiliations:

  • Co-facilitator Family and Divorce Mediation training, Family Life Centre in Parkwood
  • Founding member of the NGO, Lawyers against Abuse.
Categories List: