Search Google Appliance


Therapy with Adoptive and Foster Families - Program Courses

Click brochure below for current program dates 

Schedule

  • (f2f/vs) - Class meets in person, but in-class activities may be viewed remotely via videostreaming.
  • (online) - Class is entirely online.
Course Sep Oct Nov Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Through a Child’s Eyes: An Overview of the Adoption and CW Systems X
(online)
             
Central Elements of Preserving Placements   X
 (f2f/vs)
           
Impact of Abuse, Trauma, and Neglect on Child Neurodevelopment   X
(f2f/vs)
           
Clinical Practice with Adoptive & Foster Families     X
(online)
         
Treating the Continuum of Attachment Difficulties in Adoptive & Foster Families (2 days)       X
(f2f/vs)
       
Kinship, Cultural Connections, and the Ever Changing Family         X
(online) 
     
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Other Drug Effects: Understanding & Applying a Brain-Based Approach with Adoptive & Foster Families           X
(f2f/vs)
   
From Hyperarousal to Dissociative Disorders: Recognizing and Treating Childhood Trauma and its Impact on Adoptive and Foster Families           X
(f2f/vs)
   
Family-Based Therapeutic Strategies: Coaching Adoptive & Foster Families             X
(online) 
 
Promoting Positive Sexual Development Following Abuse          
  X
(f2f/vs)
Essential Clinical Interventions for Adoptive & Foster Families               X
(f2f/vs)

** No classes during December.

How to access your online courses

Course Descriptions

Available for continuing education credits or graduate credit.

This flexible program is designed with the working professional in mind. Each course can be taken as a stand-alone workshop or online course, and the workshops are also video streamed for those unable to come to campus. Courses can now also be taken for graduate credit. Look for the credit option below. 

For mental health therapists, a full postgraduate certificate of completion can be earned by completing all workshops, online courses, and other program components. All courses are offered one time per year. Professionals can enter the program at any time during the year.  

See the Certificate Info link on the left for complete certificate requirements.

Training formats include face-to-face sessions held at Portland State University’s downtown Portland campus, and online courses using Desire2Learn (D2L). The face-to-face sessions are video streamed and accessible “live” or can be viewed later. See the Technical Requirements page for more information. Instructors are national, regional, and local experts in the fields of mental health, adoption, and foster care. See the Faculty page for instructor bios.

Workshops and courses

September online class: Through a Child’s Eyes: An Overview of the Adoption and Child Welfare Systems
By its very nature, child welfare involves a dynamic array of systems, including governmental, institutional, and legal bureaucracies. This session addresses the impact those systems have. Topics include Child Protective Services (CPS), juvenile court oversight of DHS and families, Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), sibling policy, permanency planning and the Oregon Safety Model. Learn about the placement stages: selecting families, adoption committees, transitioning children, finalization process, and post adoption services. Explore how DHS, therapists, and families can work together to assist in making placements successful. A dynamic panel shares the real impact of these processes on children and their families.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: complete all activities for the online course and also the credit assignments (1 credit).

October workshop: Central Elements of Preserving Placements
This session examines the central elements of keeping adoptive/foster families together, including effective responses to families in crisis and de-escalating behavior problems. This training explores the factors that are most likely to create successes or cause challenges for children and their families. Some of these challenges include the impact of trauma, loss, and identity issues, and how these issues manifest over the course of a child’s development. It addresses interventions that promote family functioning, including using life storybooks in therapy and ways to enhance attachments in adoptive/foster families.

October workshop: Impact of Abuse, Trauma, and Neglect on Child Neurodevelopment
Exciting new brain research indicates that positive relationships can rewire and repair the damage from trauma, abuse, and alcohol/drug-related neurological disorders. Compare normal childhood development and its tasks with development clouded by abuse, neglect, and trauma. Learn about intervention strategies such as affect regulation, Circle of Security, sensory integration, early identification of neurodevelopmental profile risk, parent education on expected behavioral/developmental patterns, and, most importantly, the healing power of relationships. Identify specialized parenting skills to promote positive neurological progress.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: Strengthening and Preserving Adoptive & Foster Families: Healing the impacts of abuse, trauma, and neglect on child neurodevelopment (1 credit)
Attend the two October workshops listed above and then complete the accompanying credit assignments.

November online class: Clinical Practice with Adoptive & Foster Families
Adopted and foster children enter the family with a unique history, including their experience with and connection to their birth family, siblings, genetic background, and specific resiliencies. This class considers how adoption impacts all members of the family system throughout their lives. Adoptive parents go through a unique process in order to become parents, often without the support and sanctions that are available for biological parents. The adopted child has at least two families and thus may experience a chronic tension between belonging to one of to the other. This class explores the core clinical issues: attachment and bonding, loss and grief, divided loyalties, identity, issues of control, and entitlement and gratitude. These core clinical issues are considered across the developmental stages. It introduces some therapeutic techniques for working with families and uses case vignettes to illustrate. Participants gain a fuller understanding of the importance of competent practice in working with families affected by adoption.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: complete all activities for the online course and also the credit assignments (1 credit).

January workshop: Treating the Continuum of Attachment Difficulties in Adoptive & Foster Families (2 days)
Attachment challenges are endemic to children who have experienced losses in attachment, dysregulation due to complex trauma, and early neglect. This course reviews attachment theory and research in child welfare, and then moves on to provide practical protocols for helping families to move into secure attachments. The class includes case examples and research from both domestic and international adoption. Participants will learn to assess attachment, will explore styles/patterns of attachment, will review practical interventions with families forming secure attachments, will learn methods of preserving attachment when children are moved between families, and will learn the essentials of treatment for attachment difficulties. The course will use techniques suited for children with executive dysfunction and/or FASD, including having parents and carers as part of the therapeutic intervention when working on attachment. This course will emphasize the interplay between parent and child attachment patterns, and ways to move families into secure attachments. We will describe the impact of emotional dysregulation on parents, and ways to encourage families to maintain sensitive, attuned interactions.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: Treating the Continuum of Attachment Difficulties in Adoptive & Foster Families (1 credit)
Attend the two-day January workshop and then complete the accompanying credit assignments.

February online class: Kinship, Cultural Connections and the Ever Changing Family
Diversity is a major theme of adoption and foster care given the demographics of the children needing families and the ever-changing composition of families. Issues of belonging, identity and differences affect children and parents alike. Families vary in structure, composition, racial makeup and dynamics. Clinical practice and therapeutic strategies must be tailored to families in a manner that respect their unique composition and culture. This course presents a framework for individualizing practice with relative and kinship placements. Learn about the ever changing family, including gay, lesbian, single parent, and transracial families, and the dynamics that shape the families experiences.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: complete all activities for the online course and also the credit assignments (1 credit).

March workshop: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Other Drug Effects: Understanding & Applying a Brain-based Approach with Adoptive & Foster Families
Linking brain function with behaviors provides a framework for professionals and parents to reframe the meaning of behaviors and develop skills to effectively and appropriately support children, adolescents and adults with neurobehavioral challenges. Recent research confirms that abuse, neglect, and trauma can impact a child’s brain which manifests in behavioral symptoms. Likewise, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and other alcohol-l and drug-related neurobehavioral conditions (FA/NB) affect brain structure and function, also resulting in neurobehavioral characteristics that often affect relationships. Primary and secondary behavioral symptoms and tertiary issues are defined. This leads to a discussion of how children commonly accumulate numerous DSM diagnoses, such as Autism, AD/HD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Participants are encouraged to consider the equation that the greater the number of diagnoses, the greater the likelihood of underlying brain involvement. Case examples illustrate why good standard techniques may be ineffective, and what happens when neurobehavioral symptoms clash with widely held values and expectations. Each participant will practice application of a neurobehavioral, brain-based approach and learn skills for coaching families to develop accommodations for their neurobehaviorally-involved child. Reframing leads to understanding and acceptance; this strengthens relationships and prevents problems.

March workshop: From Hyperarousal to Dissociative Disorders: Recognizing & Treating Childhood Trauma and its Impact on Adoptive and Foster Families
Trauma and traumatic stress can directly affect the development of affect regulation and empathy in children. In this class, learn about the various trauma and dissociative disorders as listed in the DSM-V and examine the effects of trauma on children and the caregiver-child relationships. Understand the hyperarousal continuum and the dissociative continuum. Some of the important elements and goals of trauma treatment include building emotional regulation and working to build a new internal self-view. This class builds on the previous Impact of Abuse class by continuing to explore the brain and trauma, including the hopeful new work in neuroplasticity. It includes extensive coverage of treatment approaches and coaching strategies for work with parents and children together.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: Recognizing and Treating FASD and Childhood Trauma and its Impact on Adoptive and Foster Families (1 credit)
Attend the two March workshops listed above and then complete the accompanying credit assignments.

April online class: Family-Based Therapeutic Strategies: Coaching Adoptive & Foster Parents
Often adopted and foster children exhibit behavioral challenges, learning disorders, and other special needs that defy traditional parenting techniques, tax educational and social services, and exact a toll on the child and family. This session provides a detailed framework for understanding significant behavioral problems and relationship difficulties in special-needs adoptions. Emphasis is placed on practical ways for mental health providers to consult with adoptive and foster parents on dealing with classic problems such as food issues/eating disorders, lying, stealing, bedwetting, encopresis, sleep problems, anger outbursts, fire setting, and parentified behavior. This session focuses on understanding behavior problems in the context of the child’s history of past exposure to maltreatment and to dysfunctional family roles. This session provides numerous case examples and illustrative interventions.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: complete all activities for the online course and also the credit assignments (1 credit).

May workshop: Promoting Positive Sexual Development Following Abuse
Many children who are adopted or in foster care have been sexually abused. This training explores the impact of sexual abuse on children throughout their development. The aftermath of sexual abuse affects the child but also has a significant impact on the adoptive or foster family. This training introduces research-based practices and interventions to assist families in facilitating positive sexual development following the aftermath of sexual abuse, including interventions for trauma-related behaviors, promoting positive sexual identification, and coaching parents to promote healthy relationships to increase well-being and minimize problem behaviors.

May workshop: Essential Clinical Interventions for Adoptive & Foster Families
Learn clinical interventions for working with families raising children with complicated histories. Specific focus on engaging families, applying assessment information into treatment plans supporting kin, guardianship and adoptive parents, and therapeutic protocols for trauma, loss, and attachment. Learn approaches for family-centered therapy. Apply concepts of stress regulation, theory of mind, attachment, and pacing into treatment plans. Learn necessary accommodation for children with FASD or learning issues common after severe neglect. Incorporate ethnic identify and cultural identity issues into the understanding of best treatment. Review evidence-based projects that work with Attachment, Trauma and Loss. Learn behavioral management techniques that help families maintain sensitivity with structure. Apply information on trauma, loss, attachment, and identity through classic cases.
COUN 507 Graduate credit option: Promoting Positive Development and Essential Clinical Interventions for Adoptive and Foster Families (1 credit) Attend the two May workshops listed above and then complete the accompanying credit assignments.