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McGrath Art Therapy
Positive Change Begins at Home

Art Therapy and Adoption: Finding a Path To Success

James specializes in treating adopted children who are struggling to connect with their new family. He has found that even though the adoptive families and the adoptive child have positive hopes for the future, they find that they get stuck at different points in the journey to connecting; even when the family has had significant preparation and training. James combines art therapy with a trauma-informed, holistic approaches to help adoptive families find success with their adoptive child.

Frequently the adoptive child has hidden wishes and needs, and some not so hidden and any of these wishes or needs can alter what happens when a child moves in with their new family.

The following are often the wishes /needs of adoptive children:

  • Most of the time the adoptive child wants a home but also harbors a desire to be back living with their birth family; even when they know it could never work.
  • Some children see adoption as a way to bide their time until they turn 18, or a way to ‘get out of the system’.
  • Some feel that if they can make the adoption fail they will be allowed to go back to their ‘real parents.’
  • Some children feel that all they want is a chance to have a normal life and adoption is as good as it is going to get.

When working with adoptive children through art, their deepest feelings eventually surface (often to their own surprise). It is often the case that these feelings have never been openly discussed or they exist on a level where the child is unaware
of them.

Art therapy is an excellent method to help access these feelings in a safe manner. Admitting to the deeply-felt reality of their losses truly offers a child a second chance. It is a chance that allows the wounds to heal while offering a child and their new family a path to success.

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