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The Children's Issues

Foster Care and Parental Alternatives

Understand issues of attachment and trauma in children in foster care and living with grandparents.

Program Description

Recent figures show 513,000 children were in foster care in the United States, and as many as 5.4 million children live with their grandparents. In this program, we explore the issues of foster care and parental alternatives from a number of viewpoints, with a special emphasis on understanding attachment theory and trauma, which are both the backdrops and main features in work with this population.

Learning Objectives

This program provides clinicians with the opportunity to:

Develop a basic understanding of attachment theory.

Recognize the factors that make for successful foster home placement.

Understand when vicarious traumatization occurs in the therapist.

Learn methods of assessing the attachment levels of these children.

Be able to recognize the impact on the child of grandparents raising grandchildren.

Learn what happens when traumatized children perceive the adult world is out of control.

Learn the main aspects of a safety plan for a child at risk.

Understand what happens when a child lacks affect regulation.

Learn what happens as a sexually abused child grows older.

Understand what is involved in treating an abused toddler.


Attachment Issues in Children in Foster Care - Nancy Boyd Webb, D.S.W.

Dr. Webb discusses the ramifications of grief and loss in children in foster care and offers specific play therapy methods for assessing the attachment levels of these children.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Julie Poehlmann, Ph.D.

When grandparents take responsibility for their grandchildren, three relationship processes simultaneously occur: attachment disruptions, revised attachment relationships, and challenged internal working models of attachment. Dr. Poehlmann discusses this phenomenon through her research of children living with grandparents due to the incarceration of their mothers.

Overview to Attachment Theory - Frances Stott, Ph.D.

Dr. Stott discusses attachment theory and the attachment issues experienced by high-risk children in foster care. Attachment theory posits children instinctively attach to caretakers in order to achieve security and survival.

Psychotherapy with Psychologically Traumatized Children - Cynthia Monahon, Psy.D.

Dr. Monahon takes us through several years of psychotherapy with a preschool girl, who was severely abused as a toddler by her parents and then moved from multiple foster homes until finding adoptive parents. Using drawings and doll play, Dr. Monahon tenderly helped the adoptive mother weather the turbulence in her relationship with this little girl.

Rebuilding Family Ties - Richard Kagan, Ph.D. website

Most children do not remain in foster care forever. To aid these high-risk, fragile situations, Dr. Kagan has developed tools practitioners can use to provide a coordinated effort to rebuild family ties and change cycles of crisis.

Sexual Abuse and Foster Care - Toni Heineman, D.M.H

Current statistics show as many as 75% of children in foster care have been sexually abused. Of these children who receive psychotherapy, treatment is a rocky road. Recognizing these challenges and the need of these children for long-term therapy, Dr. Heineman established A Home Within, the only national organization focused on the emotional well-being of foster youth. Therapists in this program treat these children for as long as they need at no charge. 

In this interview, Dr. Heineman discusses psychotherapy with children living in foster care who have suffered sexual abuse.

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Client Testimonials

“Interviews were clear, concise, to the point – an enjoyable way to learn.”

... Joe F.

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