Therapy Resources for Adopted, Foster, & Kinship Families

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Therapy Resources for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Families

Raising a child who comes to you through adoption, foster care, or kinship care can bring a mix of both gains and losses to families. Some children feel the losses acutely, while others do not. Some kids carry the scars and pain of loss, abuse, or neglect into their new homes. Many kids struggle with the long-term impacts of prenatal exposure. Behaviors may be confounding or challenging for parents and caregivers to understand and manage. It’s common for children impacted by trauma to struggle to form attachments to new parents or caregivers. Trust does not come quickly. It’s also not uncommon for new parents and caregivers to struggle to attach to their new children.

The good news is that help is available. Therapists trained to treat issues related to adoption, foster, or kinship experience can work with parents and children to help smooth out the bumps that sometimes occur in these relationships.

The resources we’ve compiled here will help you find a therapist that suits you and your child’s needs and equip you to ask the right questions to get the right fit. We use the term “adoption-competent” here to simplify the conversation. However, please know that many of the issues foster and kinship families experience are similar and benefit from the same professional care.

Finding a counselor or therapist that is adoption-competent and trained to handle adoption-related mental health issues for an adopted, foster, or kinship child (and family) is a challenge. Here are some suggestions of reputable resources to assist families in their search:

Center for Adoption Support and Education — CASE offers training resources for professionals, along with two adoption-competency initiatives for mental health professionals to acquire “the skills, insight, and experience necessary to serve the needs of the adoption and foster care communities.” They also provide a directory for therapists that have been trained in their programs.

The Karyn Purvis Institute for Child Development — As the developers of the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) model of parenting and attachment-building with adopted and foster kids, KPICD offers frequent training options for mental health professionals. Their TBRI Practitioner list is updated frequently and searchable by region.

Adoptee-Therapist DirectoryBeyond Words Psychological Services, LLC, maintains this list of licensed U.S. mental health professionals who identify as adoptees & work with adoptees/adoptive families in a variety of public & private settings.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway — This site, run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, offers a wide variety of resources for adoption, foster care, and other child welfare issues. You can search for resources in your area. They also offer this guide to finding and working with an adoption therapist. It includes information on different types of therapy and additional tips for choosing a therapist.

Adopt US Kids — This national organization focuses on increasing awareness of the needs of children and teens in foster care, including the need for permanence. They offer a variety of training and capacity-building services for adoption and foster professionals, along with supports for adoptive parents that include information on mental health resources.

The Family-Centered Treatment Foundation — A partner organization to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, this organization focuses on home-based therapy. Parents seeking therapeutic support should specify their preference for adoption-competent practitioners. This model has been found to be very effective with children who have experienced trauma and are struggling with attachment and behavioral issues.

The DDP Network — Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) was created as a treatment for families with adopted or fostered children who had experienced neglect and abuse in their birth families and suffered from significant developmental trauma. They offer a Find a DDP Practitioner, Consultant or Trainer tool on their website, along with other resources for both mental health professionals and families.

Theraplay, Inc. — Theraplay provides individualized, one-on-one, play-focused therapy services in a variety of settings, including their outpatient centers, schools, or children’s homes. Therapeutic services include playgroups, occupational therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and more.

Check your County and State Welfare Agencies

Contact the local child welfare and foster agencies in your county and ask who they recommend. These governmental agencies go by different names in different states (Department of Social Services, Department for Children and Families, etc.)

Ask for Friends and Family Recommendations

Parents can also seek also “word of mouth” recommendations that come from trusted sources, such as:

  • Fellow adoptive and foster parents
  • Adoption & foster caseworkers, home study agency, or social workers
  • Family doctors or pediatricians
  • Children’s hospitals
  • Adoption clinics
  • School psychologists, social workers, or guidance counselors

As adoption-competent mental health resources can be challenging to find, parents often feel overwhelmed by the circuitous path that “word of mouth” recommendations lead them to follow. It can take some time and trial runs before they find the right fit for their family’s needs.

Because there is so much overlap in therapy information between foster/kinship parenting and adoptive parenting, you can also check out Therapy Resources for Foster and Kinship Families, in our Foster/Kinship Resources Pages. There are more tools and supports listed there to help you find the right match for a foster child as well as an adopted child.

For parents, caregivers, or professionals who are seeking specific support for an adoptive, foster, or kinship child who has been sexually abused, we offer the following considerations from Dr. Jennifer Shaw, with the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery & Education. She was a guest on a recent podcast that is now available as a course called Helping Children Heal from Sexual Abuse.

  • Look for a therapist who is both adoption-competent and trained and experienced in working with young, pre- and school-aged children. Educational experience in child development will be very helpful.
  • Consider searching for an RPT – An RPT is a Registered Play Therapist. RPT’s are mental health professionals who have completed extensive additional training and supervision in play therapy (Keep in mind, depending upon the age of the child, play therapy might be more helpful than traditional talk therapy.)
  • Ask the potential therapist if he or she has both childhood trauma AND sexual abuse training and experience and with what ages.
  • Ask the therapist if he or she collaborates with other medical, mental health, and school professionals if need be and share some examples of how that works.
  • Sound out the therapist to see if he or she is family-focused? Does he or she understand and treat the impacts of this abuse on the family unit? Is he or she willing to help you become educated allies to your child(ren)?

Finally, these resources can help you craft a thorough interview to find the right fit for you and your adopted child.



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**Inclusion on this page of resources does not imply an endorsement of any provider, organization, or resource. recommends that parents and professionals do their own research to find a mental health provider that suits their needs and values to find the right fit.