Adoption & Special Guardianship Support

Conatus Psychology is an established provider of services for adoptive families (pre- and post-order) and families caring for a child through an SGO, funded via the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). We are registered on the provider frameworks with several regional adoption agencies including Birmingham Children’s Trust, ACE Adoption, Adoption North-West, Adopt East Midlands. We have also accepted referrals to support children placed with families in the Midlands region from other parts of the country, e.g. Adopt London East, Adoption South East.

Through our digital therapy offer we now welcome enquiries from any location for specialist support via platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, 3CX.

Conatus offers specialist psychological and multi-disciplinary assessments, both as stand-alone commissions as well as potentially to inform a programme of specialist attachment/trauma focused therapeutic work. We are up to speed with the ASF Service Categorisation Guidance and aim to work with commissioning adoption agencies to contract support proposals that are In Scope for the ASF and crucially that explores and acknowledges the many facets of complex trauma and early adversity as present in children, adolescents and young adults.

At Conatus, we see early trauma having many forms; a consequence of this is being that interventions are required to be adaptable and informed by a range of approaches within healthcare and psychotherapy. The ‘relationship illness’ that is usually described as attachment difficulties or attachment disorder is a significant component in many referrals we see of children and young people whose early life experiences have been so turbulent, abusive or neglectful. Supporting parents/carers - in the tough task of raising the hurt child whose low trust in caregivers (or in adults generally) translates into an array of challenging behaviours and perceptions, including by the child or who they are and how come they have been transplanted into someone else’s care – is a core offer and input much more than the delivery of therapeutic parenting or behaviour management curricula, although they can be a starting point. We have clinicians with accreditation in systemic psychotherapy, dyadic developmental psychotherapy and most team members are experienced in delivering attachment and trauma informed therapies.

Equally, adoption in the 21st century relates to children who have been removed from their parents following experiences that have been shown to impose long-term and even permanent impacts on the child’s social, cognitive, intellectual and emotional functioning. Exposure to toxins prenatally (i.e. alcohol, opiates, domestic violence or other major stresses on the birth mother during pregnancy) will convey shades of impact, often invisible, long-term and sadly, most likely to unfold progressively through the child’s development. Some children are vulnerable to present with patterns of not-coping that were reported in their birth parents, such as major learning difficulties or disabilities.

This often leaves Guardians and adoptive parents, and support workers and therapists too, feeling that they are failing by degrees – provoking and ingraining blocked care and blocked trust, major risk factors when the hopes and dreams of parents/carers and children are being or becoming dashed.

With the above in mind, good psychological and multi-disciplinary assessment is critical for these children, to manage expectations for all involved, i.e. the Team around the Child, and of course to help in recommending appropriate supports and therapies based on assessment that acknowledges the range of possible explanations and even causes for the difficulties that are being experienced. Of course, it’s likely that some children have experienced shades of both…an even more challenging task for assessment and for planning interventions, support and understanding. For Conatus clinicians though, we are clear though that these children and families should not experience a ‘double disadvantage’ of having their presentation incompletely understood.
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