Adoptive Youth & Parents in Therapy: Wisdom and Skills for Respectful Practice

Training Overview

Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH) is hosting a training event on adoptive youth and parents in therapy: wisdom and skills for respectful practice with Krista Nelson, LICSW, LMFT, and Wenedy Baker, Co-founder of Family Circle Counseling.

Therapy for adoptive children and their parents is not generic. It takes specific knowledge of and sensitivity to the lived challenge of being an adopted person in Minnesota. This workshop is a three-part dialogue about what makes the adoption of mental health unique; clinical decisions in specific case examples; and what modalities to use and when.

Our dialogue will highlight how to navigate relational expectations through developmental stages; address grief and loss that both child and adult face in forming a family; work with differences in class, culture, race, and mismatch of expectations; build emotional safety; move through attachment rupture and repair; and finally when and how to “talk about” adoption and identity as youth claim their own while remaining loyal to many.

This training is for mental health professionals with family members, educational and social service professionals, and students are welcome to participate. This training will address

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify unique/specialized aspects and clinical themes of adoption-focused therapy and how to work with these.
  • Participants will understand the reasoning behind the use of various therapeutic modalities.
  • Participants will develop an understanding of the unique aspects of the use of self in adoption-specific therapy in supporting relational repair, identity development, cultural diversity, trauma reprocessing, and felt sense of safety.

About the Presenters

Krista Nelson, LICSW, LMFT has thirty years of post-master’s experience working with children and parents who are coping with attachment loss, trauma and family changes, especially with youth who entered a family through adoption.  She is co-founder of Family Circle Counseling in St. Paul, MN and led the Wilder Foundation’s Attachment and Trauma Training program from 2001 to 2017.  Krista is a frequent speaker at statewide mental health conferences on issues of attachment and trauma. She continues to co-facilitate the popular MN ADOPT parent workshop Surviving and Thriving Beyond the RAD Diagnosis.  Krista is an attachment focused family therapist with advanced training in EMDR, Theraplay and Emotion Focused Couples Counseling who loves the balance of doing therapy with playful children, teens, adult adoptees, parents and couples in their quest for healing.

Wendy Baker is the co-founder of Family Circle Counseling, in St. Paul, MN, a family focused group practice, with particular dedication to adoptive and foster care families and their unique and potentially complex, intensive therapeutic needs. Prior to her founding of Family Circle Counseling, Wendy worked within Wilder Foundation Residential Treatment, providing individual and family therapy and supervising direct care staff.  She is a graduate of the University of Washington’s Developmental Psychology program and received her MSW from the University of Minnesota. Wendy has over 40 years of clinical experience with children, families and individuals of all ages. She specializes in clinical work with survivors of complex trauma healing from developmental and relational wounds such as childhood neglect, physical & sexual abuse and attachment traumas/disruptions. She has advanced professional training in the areas of attachment; complex trauma; child development; play therapy; infant-early child therapy; expressive and family therapies. Specifically in the use of EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Theraplay, Play Therapy, Art Therapy, Sandtray and Emotion Focused therapy methods.

Wendy is also a seasoned educator. She has been the lead trainer for the post-graduate certification course at the University of Minnesota (PACC) Permanency and Adoption Clinical Competency (PACC) for the past 13 years. She also provides professional supervision and consultation around adoption, attachment and complex trauma work and conducts parent and professional training through NACAC and MACMH and in the schools on attachment; trauma; approaches for working with attachment challenged adolescents; and attachment assessment. Wendy has also conducted seminars for members of the judiciary on the impact of divorce on children and the best interests of the child in adversarial divorce/custody proceedings. She has also been an adjunct faculty member at University of St. Thomas teaching Master’s Level Graduate School courses in Clinical Social Work.

Register through MACMH

This training is approved for one hour of cultural competence and is anticipated to be approved for three hours of clinical content.



August 2, 2023
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health
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