Therapy. In our society, there is often still a stigma attached to the word. As if it is a bad thing. Or, that it must mean ‘things must be really bad for him/her/them if they are in therapy.’ This could not be farther from the truth. Much like you go to the Doctor for regular check-ups for your physical well-being, going to a counselor for your mental health is just as important! So kudos to you for taking this step for the sake of your child’s mental health!
We recommend therapy for all adoptive families, regardless of whether or not they are or their child is in crisis. During the pre-adoptive training at Madison Adoption Associates, our families are required to identify an adoption competent therapist in their area. How do you identify such a therapist you ask? We recommend that you start by asking your agency! We have an abundance of resources and contacts, that we are happy to share with you! But what happens if we do not know of a current therapist in your area? Don’t worry! First, develop a list of therapists that you want to reach out to. To develop that list, ask others in the adoption community, your family doctor/pediatrician, check your insurance list of providers, and sometimes an internet search can point you in the right direction.
Once you have your list, here are some general points to consider when interviewing a therapist to see if it is a good fit for your child and family:
- Start with simple – Ask them if they have experience with adoptees and adoptive families! Specifically, as it pertains to your situation (international, older child, infant, special needs, etc.)
- Ask how long they have been in practice. If it has not been long, ask about his or her mentor/supervisor, and include him or her in these interview questions.
- Ask if they are trauma informed. You should be generally familiar with what that phrase means at this point, thanks to your pre-adoptive training 😊. So, a few sentences from the therapist in response to the question ‘are you trauma informed’ should provide you with enough insight to know if they truly are.
- Ask them if they are familiar with TBRI/Karyn Purvis, as a therapist’s knowledge of the existence of TBRI will shed some light as to whether he or she is adoption competent. They do not necessarily have to practice TBRI, but their knowledge of its prevalence in adoption work is telling.
- Along those same lines, ask them what modalities they utilize. And if you are unfamiliar with those that they use, ask them for more information about them! Better yet, do your own research prior to contacting therapists regarding different modalities.
- Ask about his or her approach to child therapy – are the parents included in sessions? The whole family? Or is it just the child? You know your child best, so you know what will most benefit them, be it solo therapy, or with you included.
- And then of course the logistics – How often? Where? How much (insurance will factor in here as well)?
Therapy is only as good as the therapist-child-family relationship – it is crucial that it be a good fit! If at any time during your search it just does not ‘feel right,’ it probably isn’t the best fit! Keep searching. And do not ever hesitate to reach out to your agency if you are having struggles finding the right therapist!