A Home Within offers help for current or former foster children

Last modified: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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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