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A Home Within offers help for current or former foster children

Finding the right therapist is an important part of helping adopted or foster children deal with their childhood trauma and emotional problems, according to Karen Zilberstein, who teaches at the Smith College School for Social Work.

Zilberstein is the clinical director of the new Northampton chapter of A Home Within, a national nonprofit based in San Francisco that trains therapists to specialize in helping foster children and then connects them with patients who have been in the foster care system. The therapists volunteer their time and will help anyone who has ever been a foster child; the oldest participant in 41, she said.

“The idea is one child, one therapist, for as long as it takes,” she said. “Three and a half years is the average.”

According to statistics from A Home Within, 79 percent of the foster children the organization has worked with experience significant reductions in stress, anxiety, and dissociative disorders.

Currently two Northampton area therapists are already meeting with patients, and two more therapists have signed up to start soon, Zilberstein said. She is recruiting therapists who have their own private practices, as opposed to those at clinics, to be part of the nonprofit.

“A lot of foster children go to clinics, where there is a lot of turnover, so they go from one therapist to another,” she said. “We don’t want to recreate what is happening in other places in their lives.”

Those with private practices tend to be more settled down and less likely to move, she said, so the therapist can remain a constant in the child’s life, even if they are moving to different homes.

— Rebecca Everett

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Karen Green and her partner Linda Cavanaugh adopted their daughter Bianca when she was 5, about 18 months after she came to them as a foster child. The event was wonderful and “life-changing,” said Green. But parenting a child who has been moved from home to home can come with certain challenges, and there were times the family didn’t know … 0

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