31 May 2015

The Law in respect of Counselling for Adoption Issues

In 2010 there was a law passed that means that only counsellors registered as an Adoption Support Agency and with Ofsted are able to offer specialist adoption counselling. This is an extract from a relevant page on the Counselling Directory website :

Approved Adoption Counselling 

In December 2010, the law changed so that only counsellors and psychotherapists registered as an adoption support agency (ASA) with Ofsted are able to offer specialist adoption services. These amendments to the Adoption and Children's Act of 2002 were designed to ensure that the one in four UK individuals affected by adoption in some way, are provided with support and services from practitioners who hold the proper qualifications and experience. The introduction of this legislation now means that any counsellor working with a client for whom any aspect of adoption is the main focus, must be registered with Ofsted and subject to regular inspections. 

It may be that some individuals are seeking counselling for issues they feel may be related to adoption (such as low-self esteem) but where adoption is not the key issue. In cases such as these where the entire counselling experience is not likely to revolve solely around the adoption itself, it is fine to seek help from a professional who is not an Approved Adoption Counsellor. 

I am able to work with other issues that may be part of what is going on such as addictions or low self-esteem, but it is illegal for me to take on a client specifically with the purpose of working with the adoption issue itself.

In my experience many counsellors are not aware of this legislation so please do ask anybody that you enquire with whether they are registered specifically with Ofsted and as an adoption support agency.  If you would like specific, adoption counselling I would contact your local council Adoption Unit practice manager and ask if they can refer you to anybody suitably registered.

I have happily worked with people affected by adoption issues but there has always been another presenting factor such as gambling, a personality disorder, trauma or relationship problems which has been the cause for seeking counselling.

24 May 2015

How Counselling Can Help With Divorce and Separation

by Amanda Williamson

As a professional counsellor I often see clients with issues around family break ups, affairs, problems with ongoing divorce settlements and conflicts about children. These issues often leave people feeling rejected and very vulnerable. Sometimes these issues can tap into old wounds from childhood.

Divorce and separation involves loss for both parties and is one of the most stressful things we can go through as adults. A huge loss like this is akin to a bereavement and it is normal to experience a range of emotions such as shock, denial, anger, guilt, sadness and depression.

The shock is particularly present for those who did not make the choice to separate and it can leave them feeling bewildered and powerless as well as impacting on self-esteem.  Guilt often haunts the person who makes the decision, sometimes for years afterwards, even if the relationship was beyond repair.

Our emotions are there for a reason and we need the opportunity to express them or we can end up stuck with them which can in turn affect our future relationships or sense of happiness. We might not always have the opportunities  in our personal lives to explore emotions without other people imposing their agenda. There may be friends and family members who mean well, but we can feel pressured to be feeling and behaving in a way that others expect of us, despite the fact that grieving is a very individual process.

Some people are used to being the “strong” or “responsible” one and do not feel comfortable sharing their difficulties with anybody in their personal lives.

One of the ways which counselling works for many people is that it provides the opportunity to talk about our inner world of emotions.  A good therapist will help their client to explore what is lying behind symptoms such as depression, anxiety or anger without imposing judgement or an agenda. In paying attention to and understanding these difficult emotions  and how they might be tied up with judgements or beliefs about ourselves we can be in a better place to move on.

There may have been relationship dynamics present in the relationship which continue to play out post separation and divorce. Perhaps one partner is perceived by the other as being controlling or manipulative. Clearly there is a limit to what counselling can do to alter somebody else’s behaviour but it can help people to have clearer boundaries and feel more comfortable in asserting their own needs. If somebody has had a lifetime of shelving their own needs then some coaching in assertiveness can really help them.

Many people are pleasantly surprised at how a different perspective from a trained and experienced counsellor can really help them get on with life in a better place. It is well worth considering, particularly if someone is struggling in the aftermath of a difficult separation.

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