31 May 2015

The Law in respect of Counselling for Adoption Issues

Update December 2023 this law no longer exists. Adult adoptees and adopters do not need to have counselling with ofsted registered therapists anymore. https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/2023/20-december-new-law-change-to-improve-access-to-adult-adoption-related-therapy/

Update April 2023 https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2023/01/10/dfe-proposes-law-change-to-improve-adults-access-to-adoption-counselling/

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.

Amanda Williamson Counselling and Coaching for Couples and Individuals


Patrick Killeen said...

Thanks for the heads up, I hadn't heard about this before. I did a bit of digging and found the relevant section in Ofsted's guidance documents.


- A counsellor would need to register as an adoption support agency if they set themselves up in business to provide an adoption-related service to adults, children or families who need counselling around adoption issues. This can include circumstances surrounding their own adoption or their child being adopted.

- If an adoption related issue only emerges after counselling is established and is not the primary concern or focus of counselling the law does not require you to register. However, it is good practice for you to seek advice from someone registered to provide adoption support services. It may be better for your client to be referred to a specialist service. If however, during the first counselling session it becomes clear that matters related to adoption is the main purpose for the counselling, you should make clear to the client their right to access adoption support services and consider referring the client to a registered adoption support agency. The law says you cannot provide counselling on adoption matters without registering or being under contract with an approved adoption support service.

Introduction to adoption support agencies. Ofsted, 11 November 2014

Amanda Williamson (She/her) said...

Thanks Patrick. I have heard a few recent trainees say that this is the first they have heard so maybe it's good to get it out there.

Thanks for the further information from Ofsted.


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