Workshop Sessions IV, Session A4: Clinical Skills for Working with Families Who Have Been Formed by Adoption

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Valarie K. Oulds, J.D., Program Manager, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (PA)
Sarah Kelly-Palmer, MSW, LICSW, Vice President, Trauma, Loss & Victim’s Services, Family Service of Rhode Island (RI);
Darlene Allen, MS, CEO and Executive Director, Adoption Rhode Island (RI);
Jeff Friedman, PhD, LCSW, QCSW, Director of Residential Treatment Center;
Jessica Mack, MS, Primary Therapist, The Warwick House (PA)
Lisa Saur, MFT, Director of Admissions & Operations, The Warwick House (PA);
Brandy Nashold, LMFT, Intensive Residential Treatment Facility, The Warwick House (PA)
Family and Youth Representatives:
Christine Connors Hunt (RI)

Even as states have been able to increase the numbers of youth who are adopted, public and private agencies have been challenged to provide services post-adoption. The complexity of the issues that youth and families that are formed by adoption present with creates unique challenges that require specialized approaches. Warwick House in PA has developed such expertise by utilizing a combination of evidenced-informed and -based clinical services including Dyadic Developmental Therapy and Trauma-specific treatment modalities combined with an intensive supervision model in their work with the youth and families. Youth and families formed by adoption have often experienced intergenerational, chronic and relentless complex trauma. Families have often exhausted all of their resources and youth sometimes display behavior and emotions that are frozen in maladaptive coping patterns. A central tenet of treatment is that children who cannot live at home must be treated in their relational context. Family therapy takes place both in the residence and in the family’s home on a schedule that promotes healthy growth and aims to get everyone involved on track developmentally.

Family Services of Rhode Island is another agency that has developed expertise serving this population of families. They provide community-based clinical services that help prevent a youth from coming into care but also for those in out-of-home care. They use a combination of strategies and evidence-based trauma specific treatments and team with the Adoption Rhode Island agency. As a longstanding National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) member, they have developed expertise in addressing trauma issue for the population of children involved with child welfare, including those formed by adoption and has been involved in providing training to others. A family member will share her recommendations for working with adoptive families. Attendees will leave the session with an increased understanding of the critical issues they should be aware of related to families formed by adoption and clinical skills and strategies to use.