Sept. 28 from 1-2 p.m. CT

Register Online


Although many social workers and other mental health clinicians are likely to serve families with children who have been adopted, they may not have received the necessary preparation from their training programs to meet the unique needs of adoptive families. Without competence in the unique issues adoptive families may face, families report that their experiences with mental health providers have been unhelpful or even harmful.

Adoption-competent assessment should include a thorough examination of the impact of preadoptive risk factors known to impact postadoptive functioning (especially child traumatic stress), a biopsychosocial perspective that examines functioning within multiple systems, and assessment of the unique issues that commonly impact adoptive families.

To guide clinicians in conducting an adoption-competent assessment, this webinar will describe specific domains for adoption-competent assessment, based on the available research and clinical experience, and then will offer guidelines for conducting the initial assessment process likely to lead to a more effective treatment plan. Case examples will be presented to highlight the importance of adoption-competent, trauma-informed assessment.

This presentation offers a deep dive into the research and practice recommendations found in the article, “Using Clinical Assessment to Enhance Adoption Success,” published by the Alliance in its social work journal, Families in Society, for the special issue Adoption Competency and Trauma-Informed Practices With Adoptive Families.

Who Should Attend

  • Providers of family therapy, adoption, residential, behavioral health, and community-based services:
    • Case managers
    • Family counselors
    • Supervisors
    • Performance quality improvement staff

Learning Objectives

  • Domains for assessment of adoptive families as well as specific tools within each domain
  • Strategies for using assessment results in case conceptualization, treatment planning, and family engagement


Kate Murray
Center for Child and Family Health

Kate Murray, PhD, is a licensed psychologist primarily located in Durham, North Carolina. She directs the Center for Child and Family Health's Post Adoption Support Services program, overseeing the provision of family support and mental health services to adoptive families in 20 North Carolina counties. She has over five years of experiences conducting assessment and treatment with adoptive families including being a trained provider in multiple evidence-based treatments. Murray is a co-chair of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Resource Parent subcommittee as well as an experienced trainer and facilitator of the Resource Parent Curriculum (RPC), a trauma-informed parenting workshop for adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers. She has vast experience training multidisciplinary professionals in trauma-informed care and an early intervention model. 

Kelly Sullivan
Duke University Medical Center

Kelly Sullivan, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, and she has worked at the Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH) for more than 10 years. She is the director of mental health services for CCFH’s trauma outpatient clinic. She is also the project director of the agency’s SAMHSA-funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) project and co-project director of a program providing post-adoption support services for two regions of North Carolina. As a result of her experience providing evidence-based therapy to traumatized and/or oppositional children and their families, she serves as faculty on training teams for Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.

Direct questions to Trudy Gregory, editorial assistant at the Alliance.