Ashley Yeager, MSW, LICSW
The thought of “counseling” can make lots of people feel anxious. Some people only know what they have seen in television or movies and are self-conscious of possible stigmas that may be attached to therapy. Others think counseling is only for those that “really need help” and may not feel they qualify. At Lifeline, we know that families struggle post placement, and we expect challenges to arise as part of the journey. We desire to be a safe place where they can seek help from those struggles. Throughout the following frequently asked questions, we want to shed light onto what counseling at Lifeline looks like and to help answer some lingering questions many adoptive and foster families may have.
What is counseling?
Counseling or therapy is basically assistance or aid by a helping professional, who helps provide an avenue of growth and healing in numerous areas. Therapists at Lifeline seek to holistically and collaboratively help individuals and families specifically involved in adoption and foster care who are experiencing challenges. We do this by listening and providing therapeutic interventions specific for each family’s needs.
I feel like I am the only one struggling; is it common for adoptive and foster families to seek counseling?
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.
How do I know if my child or family needs therapy?
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, we encourage you to reach out to your Lifeline caseworker or post-adoption team. Your caseworker will help you process the challenges you are experiencing and make counseling referrals if you are interested.
What does counseling at Lifeline involve?
Lifeline has four master-level therapists on staff to help families. More traditional weekly or bi-weekly services are available from Birmingham and Huntsville, AL and from Athens, GA. Lifeline also offers a week-long Intensive Therapy Program for families living outside of these areas. The therapists at Lifeline are attachment and trauma-informed and have received training to best help families with placement concerns. Counseling typically begins with an intake appointment where you will meet your therapist and discuss your questions, concerns, and goals for therapy. You and your therapist will then make a subsequent plan to best address your needs.
What are some of the benefits of counseling?
The benefits from counseling can be vast, including, but not limited to, increased self-awareness and self-esteem, more secure attachment between parents and children, stronger marriages, healthier relationships with others, greater understanding of issues, decreases in negative feelings, enhanced communication and coping skills, feeling more equipped for parenting, and healing from past hurts and traumas.
I think myself, my child, or my family could benefit from therapy; what do I do next?
If you believe counseling may be needed for your family, you can reach out to your Lifeline caseworker and ask for counseling referrals. Each of our caseworkers is aware of the different types of therapies that may benefit your family based on your concerns. Our caseworkers can connect you with the Lifeline Counseling Department if interested in our services or provide recommendations to counselors in your area. If you do not have a Lifeline caseworker and are interested in counseling services e-mail Ashley.Yeager@LifelineChild.org.
At Lifeline, we know adoption and foster care can present unique challenges for families, and we are here to help. Please do not be scared to seek help or be held back by possible stigmas if you feel counseling could benefit your family. Our goal is to walk alongside you to help strengthen your family as you continue this journey.