What are the benefits of therapy for adoption?

What Are The Benefits of Therapy for Adoption?

Adoption is a unique experience for each child and family. It is a rewarding journey filled with love, joy, connection, and strength. It is also a complex process that can feel frustrating, challenging, and confusing, which can leave children and families feeling emotionally drained. During the process of adoption, working with a therapist can help support every member of the family with individual mental health concerns that may come up along the way and support and strengthen the family as a whole. At Washington Psychological Wellness, we have several therapy services to help you meet all of your family’s mental health goals, such as family therapy, adolescent & teen therapy, individual adult therapy, and child play therapy. We understand that adoptive children and adoptive families have unique needs that require comprehensive and compassionate care. That’s why our qualified mental health professionals specialize in addressing issues such as parent-child conflict, stress management, communication difficulties, relationship problems, and several other complex issues that you may be experiencing as an adoptive family or adopted child. We are here to help your family address the wide variety of concerns that can come with adoption. Let’s discuss challenges facing adopted children and the specific ways adoptive children and families can benefit from different therapy services.

In the United States, there are about 135,000 adoptions that occur each year. Over half of adoptions are facilitated through the United States child welfare (foster care) system, with 15% being facilitated through voluntary or private adoption and 26% facilitated through countries outside of the U.S1. Each of these systems has differing procedures and practices, not to mention that each state may have different approaches with their child welfare system, making it a truly unique experience for each child and family going through the process. This can bring unforeseen stressors for couples and families that, if are not managed or resolved, can negatively impact relationships and family dynamics.

There are several reasons a child may be placed for adoption. Unfortunately, many children have experienced abuse and neglect, resulting in trauma that can impact their behavior, development, academic performance, and ability to form trusting relationships or secure attachments. It is important to note that this is certainly not the case for every child and all of their experiences are different. But as adopted children grow older, research suggests that there are three common challenges that adopted children face regardless of the differences in their experience prior to adoption. These challenges include feelings of loss or grief, issues with identity, and self-esteem. The good news is that all of these concerns are treatable in therapy. We are confident that if you feel you or your family are struggling with any of these concerns after adoption, our services at Washington Psychological Wellness can help!

Therapy for Adoption

Family Therapy & Adoption

Benefits of family therapy

  • Improve communication and problem-solving
  • Build healthy family dynamics
  • Reduce conflict

Family therapy is a form of treatment that addresses specific issues impacting the family functioning. It includes multiple members of the family and relies on the participation of those members to improve relationships and meet family mental health goals. Whether your family is thinking about adoption or has already adopted, family therapy is beneficial. Prior to adoption, working with a qualified therapist can help the family facilitate communication about this important decision. Therapists can help identify communication deficiencies and teach effective communication skills that will allow parents and other family members to address their concerns rather than build resentment or suppress feelings that can potentially lead to relationship difficulties in the future. Additionally, this will prepare the family to resolve issues that might arise around finances, childcare duties, family values, and routines.  

Bringing a child into a family can certainly change the dynamics between parents and siblings. Family therapy can help the family adapt to change and learn coping skills that will build healthy relationships among each member. 

Child/Play Therapy & Adoption

Benefits of child/play therapy

  • Develop social skills and relational skills with family
  • Develop self-expression skills and improve self-esteem
  • Develop acceptance of self and others

Play therapy is a form of treatment for children facilitated by a therapist that uses evidence-based techniques during play. During play therapy, children learn communication skills, self-expression, and problem-solving skills that can improve behavior. If an adopted child has experienced trauma or abuse, play therapy can help the child identify and express emotions. When a child is able to identify their feelings and express them openly, it allows the child and family to communicate better. Parents gain better insight into their adoptive child’s inner world and shed light on how parents can address their needs. Working on these concerns while in play therapy can help adoptive children form stronger bonds with adoptive parents.  

Individual Therapy & Adoption

Benefits of Individual Therapy

  • Develop coping skills for feelings of loss or grief
  • Develop coping skills for symptoms of trauma or abuse
  • Improve boundaries, communication, and relationships
  • Improve self-esteem

Individual therapy is a form of treatment suited for most age groups (adolescents through adulthood). This type of therapy utilizes a variety of evidence-based therapeutic techniques that best suit your individual needs. Family members can engage in individual therapy or play therapy and family therapy simultaneously since therapy’s focus differs in the family versus individual settings. In individual sessions, you are able to explore issues and concerns that impact how you feel about yourself and how you function on a daily basis. As adoptees grow older, they may feel a loss or disconnection from their biological parents, culture, or even siblings they have been separated from. This can understandably impact identity development as adoptees may have experience with different cultures from their adoptive family. In individual therapy, adoptees can explore how culture affects their personal beliefs and help build a strong sense of self. Adoptees may even have contact with biological family through open private adoptions or choose to reach out to them in the future. This can be a confusing time for both children and adults as they navigate these relationships. Working with a therapist can help adoptees set appropriate boundaries and improve communication skills to engage these complex relationships confidently. Individual therapy also creates a safe space for individuals to process emotions and learn coping skills; this is an excellent option for adoptees who have experienced trauma. 

Mental Health Care & Adoption

Although the process of adopting and being adopted is unique to the individual and family, a therapist can serve as a professional who can support many of the stressors and concerns that can arise within those dynamics. The benefits of therapy are plentiful for adoptive children, adoptive adults, and adoptive families. Contact us at Washington Psychological Wellness to discuss which services can best meet you and your family’s needs. Our qualified mental health professionals are available to provide assessments, play therapy, individual therapy for adolescents, teenagers, adults, and family therapy.