Ancient hand prints on cave wall

A for adoption – relationships matter (DAM005)

Explore the complex issues and dynamics that surround professionals who work with adoptive families

Explore the impact of traumatic histories or stories on the professionals who work with adoptive families in our masterclass, ‘A for adoption – relationships matter’, now available to watch on our video on demand platform, Vimeo.

Highlighting the importance of relationships and relationship-based interventions as a means of making sense of these experiences and avoiding burnout, this masterclass is led by author and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist Alison Roy, and joined by Robin Solomon, Consultant Social Worker and Senior Fellow HEA.

Together, they discuss their insights as professionals working in this area. By the end of the masterclass, you will have a clearer sense of why our feelings and interactions with others are important for us as professionals working with adopted children and adoptive parents, and what they can tell us about the feelings and histories of our clients.

The masterclass, which took place live in July 2021, also includes a number of readings from Alison’s book, A for adoption.

Aims and learning objectives

The experience of adoption – both adopting and being adopted – can stir up deep emotional pain, often related to loss and early trauma.

“You don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to see how powerful themes of loss and sadness are going to be pretty central to individual and family stories, despite a ‘coming together’ as a family unit, once the adoption order has been granted. Adoption may be a new beginning – or another beginning – but new beginnings do also tend to stir up feelings left over from previous beginnings and endings” – Alison Roy

In this masterclass, we explore the impact of traumatic histories and stories on the professionals who work with adoptive families – creating a space to think about vicarious trauma, how this plays out in professional networks and politically, and where to take our responses and feelings as a result of being ‘up close and personal’ with traumatic experiences.

We explore the significance of relationships and relationship-based practice – addressing how to carve out time and space for interactions which are vital to the wellbeing of the professionals who work with adoptive families, but which can often be side-lined due to other pressures and priorities.

Without good working relationships, professionals facing such high levels of distress and stress tend to go off sick or experience ‘burnout’. We open up conversations about what we can do to mitigate this risk, and thereby strengthen the protective function of the professional network surrounding the adopted child.

In addressing these themes, we draw upon the psychoanalytic framework which underpins the book A for adoption, a framework which highlights the importance of taking time to consider how to respond to the complex difficulties and dynamics specific to the adoption experience, and to understand our responses to work in this area.

We also integrate first-hand accounts of adopters, adoptees and professionals within the adoption process, through readings from the book. The masterclass provides a space for professionals working within the field of adoption to come together to learn, reflect and consider practical steps that can be taken to enhance their practice.

Who is this course for?

We welcome anyone to this masterclass who has an interest in the subject or in adoption or foster care services, in social work or social care, as a psychological or psychotherapeutic practitioner, in medical practice, or the education sector.

It would also be relevant for commissioners and policy makers grappling with the complex issues and dynamics that surround adoption, including funding treatment and support packages for adoptive families.

Course details

This masterclass covers the following areas.

Making sense of stories and histories

How do we, as professionals, make sense of our own stories and experiences when working with adoptive families and trying to help them piece their stories together? The relevance of our own experiences is all too often underestimated and not taken into account when ‘matching’ families with professionals.

The importance of relationships

How do we understand attachments and the impact of loss or change on professional relationships? How do we prioritise relationships while struggling to keep up with tasks, and managing high levels of distress and anxiety from the families we support?

Recreating relationships

Early dysfunctional relationships can reoccur in new families and be reflected in the professional networks that surround the adoption experience. We will touch on some psychoanalytic theories, such as projection and projective identification, to examine what professionals find themselves being drawn into, and what can get ‘played out’ within the professional network and system around the family.

The role of supervision and reflective practice

How can relationship-based interventions support professionals in managing the pressures of their role, and processing traumatic experiences? Alison and Robin explore some of the challenges and opportunities that they faced when joining the two ‘worlds’ of social work and psychotherapy together in this way.

This masterclass (DAM005) originally took place on 22 July 2021, but is now available to watch anytime, anywhere from our video on demand platform, Vimeo.

There are no requirements or assessments related to this masterclass.

Course facilitators

Watch now

Visit our Vimeo VOD (Video On Demand) platform where you can rent this video recording.

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