The anticipation of the holidays and the new year ahead can feel invigorating and exciting. However, this time of year can also bring up a variety of difficult feelings for many people, including those who have been touched by adoption – birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents. It is important to deal with these feelings, and our mental health in general, proactively. A good way to take the first step in caring for yourself is to talk with a therapist. If adoption is a part of your story, it is important to utilize a therapist who understands the unique impact that adoption can have on one’s life. Even if the reason for going to a therapist is not directly related to adoption, this is still important.
Why is this important?
Think back to when you were in the adoption process. There were likely people who did not understand adoption or the type of adoption you were pursuing. They may have said too much or too little or said all the wrong things. The same is true for a therapist. If you choose a therapist who doesn’t understand adoption, he or she may focus too much, too little, or say things that are unhelpful regarding your adoption experience.
What makes a therapist competent in adoption?
Simply put, an adoption competent therapist is one who has training and experience working with people who have adoption as part of their story. A therapist who understands adoption can help you work through any adoption related matters. However, whether or not you are seeking therapy for things related to adoption, they can help you work through any difficult feelings, understanding that adoption may play a role in other areas of your life.
How do you find an adoption competent therapist?
There are a few ways to find a therapist who understands adoption. You can research and interview therapists on your own, call your adoption agency, or contact other adoption resource organizations.
1. Researching on your own
The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI) is a web-based training resource for therapists. It was developed by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) and funded by the Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children and Families and the US Department of Health and Human Services. They have a nationwide directory of therapists who have completed the NTI training. Search their list by your state, If you already have a therapist, ask if he or she has received this training.
2. Call your agency
At New Life Adoptions, we offer referrals for therapists that other adoptive families or birth parents recommend. If you have already found an adoption competent therapist that you would recommend, please share that information with us!
3. Other Adoption Support Organizations
In Minnesota, we are privileged to have an organization called MN Adopt. They have a extensive list of local therapists who have been vetted for adoption competency, in collaboration with the NTI program. You can search on their website for therapists throughout Minnesota based on location. MN Adopt also offers a HELP line if you need further assistance finding an adoption competent therapist. You can call 612.746.5137 or TOLL FREE: 1.855.670.HELP (4357).
If you have any questions about finding an adoption competent therapist, call our Post Adoption Department at 612-746-5670.