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Therapy for Adoptees

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Are You An Adoptee Who Could Benefit From Working With An Adoption-Competent Therapist?

Are you or your child adopted? Do you often struggle with feelings of loneliness or uncertainty about where you came from? And does fear of abandonment keep you from making strong connections with your family, friends, and peers? Therapy for adoptees in New York can help!

If you were adopted as a child, you probably have questions about your birth family and history. Maybe you feel like you’re missing a huge part of yourself and don’t know enough about your past to put the pieces of the puzzle together. As you struggle with loneliness and the nagging sensation that you’re different or misunderstood, you may wonder who you truly are.

This has naturally impacted the bonds you created with your adoptive parents, siblings, and friends. You may believe that you’re inadequate somehow, or perhaps you go out of your way to ensure that you won’t be abandoned. It’s possible that you compare your relationship to your family with other family members, worried that you’re less interconnected than those who are biologically related.

Understandably, transitions are difficult for you. Whether you struggle with saying goodbye or suffer when your routine changes—such as the transition from school to summer break—you may not be able to cope effectively when circumstances seem out of your control. As a result, you might have developed symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges affecting your mood and outlook.

There are so many different kinds of adoption stories and experiences. Though no one story is the same, pain can often be a component of the narrative. But in therapy for adoptees, you can feel supported by someone who understands your experience on a deep level as you learn skills to promote positive change.

Does overwhelming sadness lead you to do things that make you feel better in the moment but worse afterward? For example, you try to numb the pain with a temporary fix—like overeating, sleeping all the time, or drinking. Have you been avoiding the people closest to you or people in general because you lack the energy to interact with others? Does it feel impossible to concentrate or even think straight?

Perhaps you haven’t been happy in so long that you can’t even remember what it was like to feel “normal.” Maybe, you can’t remember the last time you truly felt like yourself. And maybe, you’ve been sad and exhausted for so long that sometimes you just feel emotionally numb. Or perhaps you feel weighed down every day and you’re tired of it. You just want to feel alive again.

Every Adoption Experience Is Unique,

But All Of Us Seek Answers

No matter how old you are or were when you were adopted, you’ve handled your birth and adoption story in your own way. Though confusion and fear of abandonment are not experienced by all adoptees, they are very common—and normal—responses. If you feel stuck or sad about unanswerable questions, you are not alone.

Unfortunately, our culture can be rather unkind when it comes to adoption-related issues. As adoptees, some of us grow up being teased about where we came from, and it’s typical to develop the belief that we were put up for adoption because we were unlovable. This narrative can foster self-beliefs about being flawed or deficient, which can follow us and present itself in unhealthy ways throughout our lives.

Yet, many adoptees worry that we will seem like a burden for discussing these challenges with our families. We may be concerned that if we express ambivalence about being adopted, we’ll be abandoned again. The internal push-and-pull of wanting to be content and needing answers is a real struggle within our community.

Therapy Gives Adoptees A Chance To Explore Their Emotions And Change The Narrative

Meet your adoption-competent therapist, Ann Marie Pagano

“In the safe space of therapy, you can explore your experience as an adoptee. As an adoptee myself, I am a therapist who understands the trauma and emotions involved in adoption on both a personal and professional level. Together, we can process your concerns and build skills for coping and resilience along the way.

Growing up as an adopted child, one of the predominant pains I suffered was all of the unknown that surrounded my story. I felt like I never had answers about my birth family and that a huge part of me was missing. However, by building essential emotional awareness skills, I was able to gain new perspectives for coping.

I am passionate about counseling adoptees because I understand the unique struggles we face, as well as the potential we have to heal. As a DBT therapist specializing in adoption-specific issues, I will customize therapy in a way that addresses adoptees’ unique struggles and concerns.”

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Help

Therapy for adoptees is available to adopted adults, teens, and children seven and older. An intake with our coordinator will be performed ahead of time to determine treatment goals, and you will be familiarized with the Dialectical Behavior Model (DBT) throughout early sessions.

If you’re unfamiliar with our approach, DBT is a highly structured, skills-oriented therapeutic model that enhances strengths in the four areas of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and personal effectiveness. By increasing your abilities in each skill category, you can cultivate more mindfulness and reduce the daily distress you feel. (Click here to read more about DBT.)

As an adoption-competent therapist, I will guide you in identifying the core issue to help you develop insight into where your emotions come from and how they affect your thoughts. Tracking emotions with daily diary cards, you will have a deeper awareness of your triggers while simultaneously developing coping strategies that will allow for a more relaxed, enjoyable life experience. And because DBT targets interpersonal skills, you will learn how to communicate your emotions effectively.

Our approach to therapy can be especially valuable for adoptees, as DBT helps with managing overwhelming emotions, and dealing with adoption-specific uncertainties, and includes a group element (including a skills group for families). Not only will you strengthen your tolerance for distress and the unknown—you will gain solace and community in the process.

No matter how you feel about your adoption, your emotions are valid. In counseling for adoptees, you can explore your experience in a meaningful way that will promote calm, acceptance, and healing.

Still Not Sure If Suffolk DBT Can Help?

What can DBT offer me in counseling for adoptees that conventional talk therapy can’t?

Though talk therapy can be useful and is incorporated into sessions as needed, most conventional methods aren’t skills oriented. DBT is unique in that it provides you with concrete coping and stress management skills to reduce your overall sense of distress.

Adoptees will likely benefit from working with an adoption competent DBT therapist because they will have ongoing support to explore their emotions and reinforce their skills. The individual and group elements of DBT make this form of counseling more comprehensive than other forms of adoption-specific therapy.

How involved is the Suffolk DBT program?

DBT, in general, is a very extensive approach and requires a lot of commitment from the clients who use it. At Suffolk DBT, we will require adoptee clients to attend individual weekly therapy, complete take-home assignments, and participate in a skills group (possibly involving the entire family) as needed.

However, because DBT is highly structured and comprehensive, clients tend to notice improvements quickly. Not to mention, you gain lifelong skills using DBT—available for you to use well after your time in therapy.

How long does therapy last?

Our therapists recommend that adoptee clients commit to at least one year of counseling. It typically takes this amount of time to learn, review, and reinforce skills. Yet, as mentioned, these are skills you’ll have for life.

Find A Sense Of Awareness & Belonging In Therapy

If you’re an adopted adult, teen, or child older than seven, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an effective approach for addressing the specific hurdles adoptees face. To schedule an appointment with our therapist specializing in adoption issues, contact us on our website or call (631) 828-2264.

Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced adoption competent therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.

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