In my nearly thirty years experience previously as a family counselor, I noticed that it was sometimes difficult for adoptive parents to seek help for themselves and their child. There can be numerous reasons for this hesitance, but many times it boils down to the thinking that “We made this choice to adopt—we should be able to figure this out ourselves.” This thinking is often based in the false perception by the parents that either their extended family, friends or even a therapist my think less of them for their choice to reach out for help. Nothing could be further from the truth! As adoptive parents, we need to push through this false thinking. Seeking professional help is a positive and proactive move, and can help equip you as a parent with effective “tools for your parenting toolbox” as well as head off future struggles for your child.
Here are some helpful hints for finding a reputable and experienced therapist:
Check with trusted friends and/or relatives whose’ adopted children have been in counseling. Ask about their experiences with particular therapists and if they would recommend those therapists for you and your particular situation.
When choosing a counselor, find out about his or her background and experience in counseling children and/or adolescents. For younger children, a therapist seasoned in a play-therapy model like Theraplay is a good sign. Also, for any age child/adolescent, a therapist who is a TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) Practitioner is someone who is effective in working with kids who have been through past trauma.
If your child is a person of color—adopted internationally or transracially—explore if a potential therapist is well-versed in multicultural issues.
For individual from a Christian faith background, the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) has a solid reputation and has a national directory of licensed therapists on their website: https://www.acc.net.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to interview a potential therapist for your first session, prior to him or her working with your child. This is your child’s life. Any therapist worth his or her salt should welcome this request.
Readers, I’m always on the lookout for effective child & adolescent therapists to refer families to. If you have had a positive experience with a therapist, please forward their name and credentials to me so I can add them to our resource list. Your name will be kept confidential.