What Is Adoption Specific Psychotherapy & Psychotherapists?
Almost 150,000 children are adopted in the United States annually. More than 53,000 children are adopted from foster care each year. And approximately 20,000 children are adopted from other countries.
Because many adopted children have had non-traditional, difficult, traumatic or even abusive events in their early life, they may experience long-lasting psychological effects from these pre-adoption years. But with love, patience and – if necessary – the guidance of an adoption therapist, adopted children can overcome these psychological difficulties and live full, happy and productive lives.
Psychological Issues of Adopted Children
Internationally adopted children may be prone to suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Attachment Disorders, (particularly in an orphanage) as their pre-adoption-years may have subjected them to circumstances where their needs were not met.
Children adopted from foster care often have also experienced traumatic events – which lead to them being placed in foster care. Physical, psychological or sexual abuse; parental drug usage, etc. can also result in PTSD, “acting out” and other conditions that would benefit from adoption-specific psychotherapy.
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is another psychological condition that is not uncommon in adopted children. Interference with their relationship attachments at an early age can put adopted children at risk of having difficulties trusting other people, or learning to separate and feel comfortably autonomous.
And, with any adopted child there may also be issues of unresolved grief and loss related to separation from their birth parents.
Symptoms of Psychological Issues in Adopted Children
Psychological issues in adopted children can manifest themselves in a wide variety of ways. Poor school achievement, low self-esteem, acting out, fighting, lying, depression, or disinterest in daily life can be seen in adopted children of all ages.
Older kids may already have established behaviors that are seen as unacceptable by their new family, and may engage in substance abuse or stealing and/or may respond particularly poorly to discipline or authority.
Adoption Specific Psychotherapy
While parents may want to protect kids from their painful past, it is a fact that adopted children think frequently about their birth families and their adoption experience. However, the adopted child may not discuss these thoughts and feelings because they want to protect his or her adoptive parents – either out of gratitude or fear.
Standard therapy for children who are adopted may be ineffective, if the therapist is not specialized in adoption-specific psychotherapy. The past history and trauma of the adopted child needs to be taken into consideration by a specialized adoption therapist – as does the cultural environment from which the child came.
Adoption Specific Psychotherapy can help the adopted child:
- Address Trauma and PTSD
- Overcome attachment disorders
- Work through loss and grief
- Strengthen their sense of identity, self-esteem
- Develop coping skills and strategies
- Address emotion regulation
- Improve problem-solving
- Promote appropriate behaviors
- Promote bonding
- Honor their birth family
- Feel safe and secure
Adoption Specific Psychotherapy can help the adoptive parent:
- Promote positive attachment
- Learn how to talk with the child about adoption
- Understand the child’s need to grieve losses
- Support positive coping strategies
- Appreciate complexity of identity development in adoptees
- Understand loyalty to birth family
- Avoid unrealistic parental expectations
- Decrease parenting stress
- Improve family functioning
- Develop appropriate & effective discipline
Oakland County Adoption Psychotherapist Victoria Schreiber Can Help
If you suspect that your adopted child is demonstrating symptoms of stress, depression or withdrawal – or if their negative behaviors have become more persistent, or are interfering with your family functioning or their school performance – it is time to consider professional help from an adoption-specific psychotherapist.
With a warm, thoughtful, and caring approach I will help you overcome your and/or your adopted child’s difficulties and gain greater insight into the issues underlying them at my Oakland County office. My goal is to help you or your child understand yourselves better, form healthier relationships, and live a happier and more productive life.