Q: What is counseling?
A: Counseling or therapy is basically assistance or aid by a helping professional, who provides an avenue of growth and healing in numerous areas. Counseling at Lifeline seeks to be holistic and collaborative with individuals, couples and families. We do this by listening and providing therapeutic interventions specific to each family’s needs.
Q: I feel like I am the only one struggling; is it common for adoptive and foster families to seek counseling?
A: Yes, it is very common for anyone involved in adoption or foster care to seek therapy at some point in his or her life. Many children in adoptive or foster care placements will need counseling because they often have experienced significant loss, in addition to trauma, including neglect and abuse by a caregiver or adult who was supposed to be a person of safety. These traumas can negatively affect a person’s thoughts about themselves, others, and the world in general. Furthermore, parents and siblings have their own needs, experiences, and possible unresolved histories that may affect their daily functioning. In addition, the process of fostering and adoption can create challenges within a marriage, between siblings, and in the family as a whole. Counseling is another tool that parents and families have to bring about healing and stability for the entire family.
Q: How do I know if my child or family needs therapy?
A: Many families face challenges pre-and post-placement, so it’s common to wonder if your struggles warrant the aid of a therapist. Sometimes these concerns are obvious based on difficult thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of self, spouse, or children. Other times the need is much less obvious. If you have any concerns or challenges within your family and would like to discuss the possible need for therapy, we encourage you to reach out to your Lifeline caseworker or post-adoption team. If you do not already have a Lifeline contact person, please fill out a contact form, call 205-967-0811 and request to speak with a Family Therapist, or e-mail Ashley.Yeager@LifelineChild.org.
Q: Can families request a particular counselor at Lifeline?
A: Yes, a family can request a particular therapist if desired. There are times when a family’s needs may better fit another therapist within Lifeline and a referral will be made.
Q: Is there a waitlist for counseling at Lifeline? How long should a family expect to be on the waitlist before receiving services?
A: Lifeline does operate from a waitlist; the number of individuals/families on the waitlist varies. The time frame that a family would remain on the waitlist before beginning counseling would depend on the family’s placement on the list (approximately 0 to 6 months). Lifeline provides referral sources when a family is placed on the waitlist in case needed.
Q: How soon should a family begin counseling with Lifeline after their child is placed with them?
A: The timing of counseling should be decided case-by-case for each family based on a number of factors such as current issues, level of need, child’s history, language abilities (cross-cultural placements), etc. In most cases of recent adoption, the goal of counseling should focus on enhancing the attachment relationships between the child and parent(s) rather than the child and the therapist, which is common in typical counseling settings. Often times, counseling begins with the parent(s) then the therapist and parent(s) subsequently devise a treatment plan to include the child in services when each feels appropriate.
Q: How do you conduct therapy when a child’s primary language is different from English?
A: It is common in International adoption for an adoptive child not to speak the primary language of his/her adopting family. In these cases, the therapist can work specifically with the adoptive parent(s) while the child is gaining language skills. In rare cases, a bilingual therapist or translator may be necessary. In addition, some counseling interventions are aimed at pre-verbal interactions where fluency in language is not necessarily needed.
Q: I know Lifeline is a Christian organization so what is the balance in counseling sessions between faith and psychology?
A: Clients are often at different places in their walks with God when they come to counseling. We assess this and are sensitive to it. We strive to meet each client where he/she is. Each of the therapists at Lifeline is a Christ-follower and is open and willing to discuss faith and Biblical truths during sessions. Lifeline therapists view psychology through the lens of theology and the Holy Spirit. Much like the book of Esther, while God may not always be specifically mentioned, His fingerprints are all over our time with clients.
Q: I am concerned for my marriage as well as my adoption/foster placement; can counseling address both marital and placement concerns?
A: Yes, each of the therapists at Lifeline is able to provide marriage therapy as well as address placement concerns. Often times, a Lifeline therapist will meet with the parents for a number of sessions before including any children to assess and address marital concerns that commonly co-exist with placement concerns.
Q: I think myself, my child, or my family could benefit from therapy; what do I do next?
A: If you believe counseling may be helpful for your family, you can reach out to your Lifeline caseworker and ask for a counseling referral or contact the e-mail address below. If you do not already have a Lifeline contact person, please fill out a contact form, call 205-967-0811 and request to speak with a Family Therapist, or e-mail Ashley.Yeager@LifelineChild.org.