Every parent knows children go through hard times as they grow up. Knowing when your child’s difficulties are due to the challenges of growing older and when they are due to the challenges of adoption can be tricky. Adoption counseling can be a great asset for adopted children and their families. However, you need to decide when it’s time to pursue counseling. Here are a few ways to know when that time has come.
Do All Adopted Children Need Counseling?
Adoption can weigh heavily on children’s minds. As parents, it is natural to want to help our children through difficult times. That can often cause parents to seek counseling when their kids encounter personal and emotional problems.
However, not all adopted children need therapy. Indeed, many studies have found that adopted children are, in general, just as psychologically healthy as children living in their birth families. But at the same time, adopted children do also face unique challenges, and counseling can help them deal with their issues and work through problems.
For parents, the question then becomes: how do you know when to pursue professional counseling for your child and when do you instead try to work out issues as a family?
When to Seek Counseling
In general, there are a few major signs you should look for when it comes to whether you should seek counseling for your child.
First, you should absolutely seek counseling when your child’s behavior is in any way harmful. Even if the issues aren’t directly related to adoption, you should always seek counseling if someone is threatening harm to themselves or others.
Beyond this, you need to examine whether your child’s behavior is something that is having an adverse effect on your family life or on your child’s life outside the home. For instance, if your child’s behavior is negatively affecting siblings, or if it is causing disruptions in class or with friends, you may want to consider counseling.
You should also think about accessing counseling if your child has negative reactions to or associations with adoption, birth, or family issues. This can indicate problems with adjustment or problems with their own identity that you may not be able to work through on your own.
When to Support Your Child Yourself
Childhood and adolescence are difficult times for every child. Growth and development require change. To that end, not every stage or phase your child goes through requires a trip to the therapist. Though you might be concerned about your child as parents, that doesn’t mean you need to immediately enlist outside help.
Instead, make sure you watch your child closely and try to be involved in their lives as much as possible. This will make it easier for you to judge when your child might be experiencing a serious issue and when they’re simply having a hard time with an aspect of their home or school life.
If you’re not sure whether counseling is warranted, you can also wait to see how your child’s behaviors or issues change over time. Many counselors warn against jumping to counseling too soon. In fact, guidelines often suggest you wait until the feeling or problem has been present for weeks or months. If your child starts feeling or behaving differently in that time, counseling probably isn’t necessary.
Finally, it’s important that you make yourself available for your child. They should never be afraid to ask questions and share with you their thoughts and feelings regarding their life. You should also be open with your child about your own feelings and emotions. Sharing is a vital part of every family, and adoption doesn’t change that fact.
Where to Go for Counseling
If your child is experiencing difficulties specifically related to his or her adoption, it’s important to find a counselor who has experience with treating such issues. You may also want to consider family counseling so you can work through your child’s problems together as a family unit.
Another option is to seek out a therapists who are adoption-competent such as those who are at Connect Counseling Center. Therapists who specialize in adoption can provide treatment specific to adoptive children and families, allowing for issues to be identified more quickly, and equipping parents with special tools and strategies to keep your family healthy and happy.
To learn more about adoption-competent therapy in Oklahoma, contact us today at Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption. As Oklahoma’s oldest adoption agency, we have more than a century of experience with connecting and strengthening families. Call 405-949-4200 today or visit our Facebook page for more insight and tips!