Why counselling?

why-counselling-adoption-support-birth-relative

This leaflet has been written from our experience and expertise. In this leaflet we discuss the benefits of counselling.

If you have difficulties with language or reading, please let us know and we will read this information over the phone or to someone who can support you.  Should you need any further information or support about this matter you can phone or email us via the details on our website.

Adoption Tracing Counselling Support

Professional Standards Authority Accredited Member 023263

Customer Care at Joanna North Associates Adoption Intermediary Work

Welcome to our service.  We are looking forward to working with you.  We provide short term focussed counselling work for people who are travelling through an adoption tracing process.  This might mean that you are seeking a birth relative, or that you have been contacted by our tracing agency because you are a birth relative.  We are aware that this can be a demanding experience, and we are here to help you with short term work focussed on the intermediary service in order to help you. If, as a result of this work, you feel you need longer term counselling relating to further issues, we will help you to find a counsellor in your area.  Please be assured, you do not have to engage with this service if you do not feel the need.  However, the service is there for people who need re-assurance, guidance and support. 

Why Counselling? 

People experience lots of emotions at this time, ranging from surprise and upset to extreme happiness and excitement.  None of these emotions are unusual to us in our work, and research suggests that if you are going through a stressful period, then talking to someone in confidence can help you to feel calmer and more able to manage. Alternatively, you may feel disorientated and feel that your identity has been shaken up and you are not the person you thought you were.  It’s a bit like one of those Christmas ornaments with the snowflakes that flutter everywhere when you give it a shake.  We can help you while all those flakes settle, and you can see the picture more clearly.        

When You Don’t Wish to Connect with someone contacting you

You may also feel that you do not wish to have any contact with the person seeking a connection with you.    If this is the case, please be re-assured that we are not here to make you change your mind, but that we are only here to support you if you wish to talk through any aspect of your experience.  People we contact have every right to decline the offer to connect with an adopted relative.  However, sometimes this remains an unsettling experience.  Our service is not conditional upon your decision.

Your Birth Records

Some of our counselling work involves helping people with their birth records.  This is especially true of adoptions prior to 1975, where counselling is a legal requirement.  Not all birth records are difficult to accept, and some people feel that they don’t need this, but we do have expertise in this area, and like to run through your story with you so that we can answer your questions.  We also have a help and advice leaflet on ‘Your Birth Records’.  Please contact and ask for this specific leaflet which we will send to you. 

Please Let Us Know About Any Vulnerabilities

Whatever your experience, we hope you will feel confident to e-mail us if you need help or even just need to ask questions, however small.  Please let us know if you have any vulnerabilities such as disability, mental health conditions, or life instability so that we can think holistically about your needs.   You may also like to let us know if you have any cultural, ethnic, religious, transgender or sexual orientation requirements relating to this adoption intermediary work.  If you struggle with comprehension or have Learning Difficulties, we can always work with a supportive person of your choice in order to assist you.   

Getting an Appointment

Anyone on your adoption team will write to us by e-mail and copy you in so that we can get back to you with an appointment.  If you don’t have an e-mail address, they will give us your telephone number so that I can speak with you.           

Your Rights

This leaflet also informs you of your rights as a service user so that you know what you can expect from us.  You should experience a safe, confidential and reliable service that is respectful and conforms to an ethical standard.   However, if you have any queries the quickest way to contact us is through e-mail  or    We have a policy to return e-mails within 24 hours except at weekends and holiday periods.

What Qualifies me to head up our counselling service for the Intermediary Service

I have a Masters Degree and a Doctoral degree in the practice of Psychotherapy. I am registered and Accredited at Senior level with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Chartered with the British Psychological Society and I am an Ofsted Registered Adoption Support Agency which in 2018 again has been rated as Outstanding.

 I have formerly been an Associate Professor at Richmond University where I taught models of counselling and psychotherapy to psychology students and I am currently Chair of the British Psychological Society Psychotherapy Section. You are welcome to a copy of my curriculum vitae – and I can e-mail this to you.  At our first meeting we will consider whether I am the best person to help you.  If I am not able to help you I will certainly try to find a specialist or expert in the necessary field.  BACP is governed by the Professional Standards Authority and is set up to protect the public and to provide a register of therapists who agree to a strict code of ethical conduct with regard to clients. Ofsted are the regulator in relation to work with Adoption, Fostering and Children who are Looked After by Social Care, as well as adults seeking support.      The aim of my work is always to practice in an ethical and respectful manner and be mindful of equality and diversity related practice.  I have a duty of care to you and I take this very seriously.  Please give me feedback as soon as you identify a problem with our service as we will want to put it right as soon as possible.

Our Counsellors

We chose counsellors to work with us based on both their competence, effectiveness and ability to quickly understand others and support them.  Counsellors working with our service are supervised and consult with Jo North who is qualified with the British Psychological Society as a Supervisor.  We have chosen Pete Robinson to work with us in the counselling service because he has a lot of experience in working with complex situations where people experience intense emotions.  Sometimes this is an emotional process, or it can be anxiety provoking, and we know that Pete can work effectively to help you. 

The Limits of Our Expertise

In relation to Adoption Counselling we are offering short term counselling consultancy and support.  We are not able to diagnose mental health conditions, but if we think you need further help, we will advise you to seek this from your G.P. or we will help to sign post you until you have the right support.   

How long will we work for?

The counselling we offer is short-term focussed work relating to your experience of tracing or being traced.    This may be up to two or three sessions, but often people need less.  It depends on what you feel you need.  Some people need a little longer over a longer period, and we are happy to provide counselling and support if you need this.    If other issues arise as a result of this life event and you need longer term work to discuss these, we will help you to find a counsellor who undertakes longer term counselling.  See below on fees.   

Fees

This service is part of our Customer Care package and there is no charge to you for this short-term work.  However, the counselling we are offering is only short term and relates to your current experience of adoption and life issues that arise as a result of the tracing process.  If you feel you need to cover other life issues, we will support you to find a relevant professional at a reasonable price or we can refer you for counselling through your G.P. who can refer you into the NHS at no cost.     

Sickness, Holiday Breaks and Continuity of Service

The Counselling service will always try to organise cover for holidays and sickness.  However, we are not available on public holidays but always return calls and e-mails when we return to work.  We can be flexible about appointments in order to provide confidentiality for people, although are normal working hours are 9-5.   

In an Emergency  

If you have any upset or troubled emotions as a result of your adoption process, please let us know as soon as possible because we will be able to help.   We cannot provide an emergency service, but we will follow up with you if you have had an emergency. If you feel you are in a crisis or feel suicidal please ring 999 or present at your nearest Accident and Emergency Unit for an immediate response.  Try to let us know as soon as possible if there has been such an event and we will respond.  The team are all trained to be alert to people’s anxiety, and our team will direct you to the counselling service as soon as they are aware of a problem.   

 Confidentiality and Safeguarding

Sessions are confidential, and this means that you have the right that no one should hear about the things that you say to us.  There are a few provisos to this right to privacy.    The first is where we have concerns about issues relating to the safety of children or if we are concerned about your safety.  In which case we will discuss any action we need to take with you.  If the tracing agency need to know about any of your specific vulnerabilities, we will check with you first that you don’t mind us talking with them.    This safeguarding relates to both children, adults and adults who are vulnerable, and applies to issues such as exploitation, modern day slavery or concerns about domestic violence. Please ask for our Safeguarding Policy.       

If you have any safeguarding concerns about our work, you can contact your Local

Authority Designated Safeguarding Officer.  There will be a specific officer for your area, and you can easily get their contact details by googling LADO (and then the name of your area). We also have a copy of the Government’s booklet ‘What to do if you are worried that a child is being abused’ in our office, and a copy of the Government policy on Safeguarding – Working Together to Safeguard Children.’  Please ask us if you would like one of these.   

Data Protection

We will keep records of your contact details, dates and times of meetings and a short summary of a few lines to remind us and record what we have discussed combined with details of any plans. 

We are obliged to keep Adoption Support Files for the period of a lifetime.  In adoption cases we may have documents on the file with your permission.  We are registered with the Data Commissioner and complaints can be made to the Commissioner if they cannot be dealt with by us.

None of your data will be passed on or sold and we comply with current data protection legislation on this matter.   We will only liaise with the tracing staff with your permission on any relevant matters.          

 Your Rights

We do have a complaints policy and will deal with any complaint as soon as possible.    Please let us know if there is a problem of any kind and ask for our Complaints Procedure.   Alison Schofield heads up our Customer Service strategy and so she would be your first point of contact:  .    We will always try to put things right for you through our own procedures, and we like to act quickly if there are problems.   If you do mention problems to us it does not affect your right to complain to the relevant Authority who are Ofsted.  However, they will ask you to have dealt with the complaint with us first and ask for the outcome from this.      Ultimately, we aim to ensure a safe, respectful, experience for you.  If we ever get this wrong, we really would like to know about it first so that we can put things right as soon as possible. 

Children’s Rights and Vulnerable Adults.  

The Children’s Commissioner is Anne Longfield.  Contact details are as follows:

Anne Longfield Children’s Commissioner, Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street. London.  SW1P 3BT

Website: www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk

Email: and
Telephone: 020 7783 8330

Equality and Diversity

You should always feel respected within our organisation and throughout any counselling process for your unique identity as a person and individual regardless of your ethnic origin, cultural rules, language, disability, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or transgender transition.      If we ever get something wrong in this respect, or you spot something that is not right for you, then please let us know and we will correct it.  We can arrange for disability access if you let us know, and we can arrange an interpretation service if you need this. We can put anything you cannot read or understand onto audio equipment or we can, with your permission, relate to third party carers who are helping you.      If you have any specific cultural or religious sensitivities, please tell us immediately so that we can support you in this. 

Feedback

We do rely on you for feedback about your experience, so please do tell me how you think this organisation can improve our service to you.  We will offer you a special format to do this easily.    We are always grateful to know if we have any areas in which we need to develop.  We hope to deal with worries or confusion quickly and effectively so please let us know of any problems as soon as possible as this is all part of the therapeutic process.  We also like to know if you think we have done well.     

Thank you   

In accordance with the BACP Code of Ethics we find it best to point out from the outset that we never create friendships with clients outside of counselling sessions, and do not socialise in any way with clients.  Please do not be offended by this as these are rules that are ultimately set up for the protection and wellbeing of clients, and to mention this at this stage saves any misunderstanding.  You should, however, expect and experience a friendly yet highly professional service.  We never respond to Facebook ‘friends’ requests or connect with clients on social media, so please don’t be upset if you don’t hear from us after our job is done.

We hope that this is helpful information and that you will e-mail if you have any further questions – however small – it matters to us.  We look forward to working with you.

The Counselling Service
Joanna North Associates
Adoption Team.