Therapy for adopted children

We know that children adopted from care will have experienced trauma and loss, even if they were adopted shortly after birth. Our team of highly qualified clinical psychologists and therapists are experienced in the unique and sometimes complex challenges and difficulties that can arise in an adoption or special guardianship situation.

Psychological assessments of therapeutic need

The team at Gateway are highly skilled in helping adopted/SGO children, young people and their families with the difficulties they might be experiencing.

  • Emotional, behavioural, relational or developmental difficulties
  • Trauma and early trauma
  • Attachment and relationship difficulties
  • Strengthening attachment relationships
  • Parent/carer stress or blocked care
  • Placements at risk of breakdown

Our therapeutic model

At Gateway Psychology, we aim to help each child or young person through the challenges or ‘gateways’ faced at a particular time, whether emotional, behavioural, relational or developmental.

The Gateway Model explains how we work. Our therapeutic model is based on research about how trauma affects the brain, and informs the therapeutic interventions, assessments and training programmes we deliver.

Our therapeutic approach

Our therapeutic approach is always tailored to the needs of the child or young person.

  • Focused on the child or young person

  • Considers the whole system around them
  • Flexible and timely
  • Highly qualified and professional
  • Supportive and compassionate

Working with Gateway Psychology

We value our working relationships. We know that we are more likely to achieve positive outcomes for a child or young person when the system works together.

That’s why we do our best to go ‘above and beyond’ for the organisations we work alongside. From our administration support team through to the leadership, we work hard to provide a professional, flexible and timely service to our clients and the Local Authorities, Regional Adoption Agencies and public sector organisations we work with.

Our therapeutic expertise

Research shows that using a multi-modal intervention is often the best way to support a child or young person. That’s why our clinical team are trained in a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions to help achieve positive outcomes for the children and young people we work with. We will always consider their needs when putting together a package of support, ensuring that we use the most appropriate therapeutic approach*.

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) is a therapy, parenting approach and model for practice that uses what we know about attachment and developmental trauma to help children and families with their relationships.
Therapeutic parenting requires a special type of parenting to help support a child who has experienced a difficult start in life. While evidence suggests that therapeutic parenting can make a positive difference for children and young people, it can be a difficult approach to ‘get right.’ Therapeutic parenting support sessions give parents and carers the space to talk about their own feelings and difficulties, while providing them with one-to-one support in therapeutic parenting techniques.
Theraplay® informed interventions are a practical, play-based approach to help build relationships and attachment between the parent and child. They incorporate fun, lively activities and games. The parent/carer and child will play together, guided by a qualified Theraplay® practitioner. These sessions are usually informed by an assessment called a MIM (Marschak Interaction Method) to help inform the direction of the therapy.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a therapeutic approach to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences. Rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviours resulting from the distressing issue, EMDR allows the brain to process the trauma and begin to heal itself.
Therapeutic Life Story Work offers children the opportunity to explore, question and understand past events of their life. Within this, it gives them a voice and safe space to feel and express their emotions when making sense of past experiences and the relation it has to their current thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

BUSS® was developed to bring together the importance of loving relationships with the development of bodily regulation. A lot of work with children who have experienced disruption to their development focuses on relational and psychological therapies. These can be complemented by an intervention like BUSS® which is a ‘bottom up’ therapy, building that foundation of good bodily regulation and relationship so that a child or young person is more able to use other relationships and therapies if they might be helpful to them.

Systemic therapy focuses on relationships between a group of people, rather than solely on an individual’s thoughts and feelings. It helps with the relationships and connections between people within the system. This ‘system’ could be a family (and often is with the work we do at Gateway), or even a group of colleagues (such as care home staff).

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is an evidence-based, intensive listening therapy designed to reset the nervous system and return from a feeling of threat to safety.

During SSP the facial and vagus nerves are stimulated with different sound frequencies. This helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system, encouraging a natural move into social engagement. SSP is safe, effective and enjoyable for children and adolescents, and proven to decrease anxiety and trauma related behaviours, improve emotional regulation and promote a calmer emotional and physiological state.

Play Therapy is a type of therapy where play and art materials are used as the main way for people to express themselves. Using play in therapy helps people to express themselves in their own way; especially if they are struggling to understand how they are feeling, or are finding it hard to put their experiences into words.

Play Therapy can be a particularly helpful approach for children in need of therapeutic support.

* These approaches are an example of the type of therapeutic approaches our clinicians are trained in. We regularly undertake additional training to ensure our clinical staff members are qualified in the latest evidence-based therapies.

Therapy and the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund

Our recommended therapeutic support often falls into the therapy Fair Access Limits for adopted children. If your Local Authority or Regional Adoption Agency would like to commission a package of support, please contact us and we will provide a quote.

If a child or family is accessing support funded by the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund, an assessment of therapeutic need might be required before a package of therapeutic support takes place


If you are a post-adoption support social worker, please get in touch with us to make a referral. We may call you to ask for further information before putting together a quote. We may recommend an assessment of therapeutic need before progressing with therapeutic input.

If you are an adoptive parent or special guardian, we recommend talking to your Local Authority or Regional Adoption Agency to find out how to access our services.

No, we do not operate a waiting list. We aim to see clients as soon as possible once funding is approved. This is usually within 6 weeks once funding approval has been agreed.

At times of high caseloads, we may need to advise that we cannot accept certain referrals.

Our clinicians are highly experienced, and regularly undertake training to stay up to date in their fields. Because our clinicians are trained and skilled in multiple approaches, we are able to be flexible in shifting the focus and approach of the work to suit the individual’s needs.

The therapeutic approach (or approaches) for each individual case is always tailored to the individual and the situation. The approach is often decided by an assessment of therapeutic need, which will determine the direction of therapy we plan to take.

Our therapeutic work is goals-focused, which means it is designed to address a certain difficulty (or set of difficulties). These goals are identified at the start of a piece of work, then addressed and monitored throughout. The clinician will put together a brief report at the end of the piece of therapeutic work.

We also undertake outcome measures for all our adoption/SGO cases. These outcome measures help us understand how a case is progressing and monitor success.

We also value the subjective experience of the child and parents/carers in helping us monitor the progress of the work.

We have a large, varied team of experts here at Gateway Psychology. Our clinical psychologists and therapists are highly experienced in their fields of expertise, and regularly undertake additional training to develop and enhance their knowledge.

One of the benefits of working with Gateway Psychology is that our team have specific areas of expertise and interest, which means we are able to help and support children and families who may be experiencing a wide range of different difficulties. We always allocate the most appropriate clinician to each case, ensuring that children, young people and families are able to access the right support for their needs.

With this in mind, it is not possible to choose or request a specific clinician. Our Clinical Director and leadership team make allocations on an individual basis.

We often say ‘as long as it takes to help with the problem!’ We know that in-depth, long-term therapeutic support is often required to address the difficulty a child, young person or family may be experiencing.

The length of a piece of work is decided before a piece of work begins. We may request additional work if it is deemed necessary.

Therapeutic interventions and assessments may be accessible through your Local Authority or Regional Adoption Agency if you are an adoptive parent or special guardian. These are often funded under the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund. You will need to speak with your post-adoption social worker to discuss this.

We are a registered Adoption Support Agency and regularly provide trauma-informed therapeutic interventions and complex psychological assessments. As such, we are inspected by Ofsted for our work with adoptive families.