Thursday, May 27, 2010

Adoption-Competent Therapists

A great factsheet from Minnesota Adopt, Adoption-Competent Therapist Traits, introduced as follows:
The need for adoption-competent mental health services is critical to the ongoing wellbeing of adoptive families. Feedback from adoptive families reflects a struggle to meet the mental health needs of their children due to a failure of some mental health providers to understand the unique issues of adoption that are related to mental health. Health and behavioral health care providers need to have expertise related to adoption in the same way that a provider might specialize in substance abuse treatment or in a specific diagnosis such as autism.
The most important trait, I think, is the one listed first: "Knowing that adoption is a lifelong process that includes universal experiences as well as unique individual feelings and perceptions."  Dr. Gregory Keck's book, Parenting Adopted Adolescents, devotes chapter 9 to the therapist's role, and notes the need to keep adoption issues in perspective in therapy:

Some therapists dismiss or minimize adoption, convinced it is not a contributing factor to the presenting problem.  Others blame all of the child's difficulties on the fact that he was adopted.  As with most things, the truth of the matter lies somewhere between these two polarities.
I think that's another important trait -- that the therapist doesn't attribute all behavior to adoption, but who knows that adoption may affect a host of behaviors.

There are two other factsheets relating to psychotherapy & adoption -- Choosing an Adoption Therapist & Working With an Adoption Therapist.

Whether any of this information is relevant for where you and your children are right now, please hang onto it just in case.  Remember how many bemoaned the lack of post-adoption services when Artyom's mother returned him to Russia -- alone -- on an airplane?  I'm building my toolbox for the future right now! 


Von said...

Couldn't agree more.It is a complex task to become competent, so many issues to get to grips with and so few willing or capable of taking it on.
Here is South Australia there is one only, with another one in retirement.

Von said...

PS the fact sheet you linked to is very adoptercentric with little about what to look for from the adoptees' perspective and therefore not very useful.It may be the best there is but second-best is no longer good enough.

Judy said...

Fortunately, we have an Adoption Center located about 1/2 hour from us. It's affiliated with a children's hospital, and when we needed assistance, we went there -- they have a therapist on staff with expertise in adoption matters.

It was SOOO worthwhile. Even though our pediatrician and others felt that we didn't need someone with adoption experience, my momma instincts told me that would be the best way to go -- and it was!!