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Tips on Selecting an Adoption Therapist

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Adoption is an event that has a life-long effect on everyone involved. Adoption brings unique rewards as well as challenges to families, and sometimes families will need or want professional help as concerns or problems arise. Timely intervention by a professional skilled in adoption issues often can prevent issues common to adoption from becoming more serious problems that might be more difficult to resolve.

The type (e.g., individual, family, group) and duration of therapy will vary depending on many variables, including the kinds of problems being addressed. Some families build a relationship with a therapist over years, "checking in" for help as needed. Other families might find they need a therapist's help only once or twice. Sometimes a difficulty a child is experiencing is very obviously connected to adoption, but sometimes the connection is not readily apparent. On the other hand, issues that seem to be related to adoption, after investigation, turn out not to be related to adoption at all. Clinicians with adoption knowledge and experience are best suited to help families identify connections between problems and adoption and to plan effective treatment strategies.

Finding the right therapist can seem like a daunting task, especially when parents may be feeling overwhelmed or burdened by the difficulties for which they are seeking help. Parents should take the time to shop around for a mental health provider who has the experience and expertise required to effectively address their family's needs. At minimum, a therapist must:

  • Be knowledgeable about adoption and the psychological impact of adoption on children and families
  • Be experienced in working with adopted children and their families.
  • Know the types of help available. For a descriptive listing please see below.

Check on Insurance

The search for a therapist can be complicated by restrictions imposed by insurance companies or health management organizations (HMOs); however, it may still be possible to choose from a list of approved therapists. Check with your insurance company to find out:
  • The extent of your coverage for mental health treatment
  • Specialty areas of approved providers
  • Company policies regarding referrals to, and payment for, treatment provided by therapists outside the plan.

You may be able to justify using a therapist outside of the network for specialized services if the insurance company does not have providers with the required expertise. Although you might meet some resistance, persevere to secure the needed services-you are your child's strongest advocate.

Some therapists accept Medicaid reimbursement. The challenge is to locate a therapist who accepts reimbursement and who has experience in foster care and adoption. Your local public foster care agency may be able to give you referrals to therapists they use for children's treatment.



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Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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