Linda Cundy is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer in private practice. She has run courses on attachment at the Wimbledon Guild for sixteen years, and is lead tutor for the Post Graduate Diploma in Attachment-Based Therapy. She has taught at a number of psychotherapy organisations.We are fortunate to have Linda both chairing and speaking at our Feb 3rd 2018 Conference on Adoption & Attachment.
What drew you to choosing Adoption and Attachment as the theme for Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training’s 2018 conference?
Since 2010, therapeutic work with clients where adoption is the central focus has required specialist training approved by the Adoption Support Agency and regulated by Ofsted. I believe this has led to a dearth of training for those of us who are not Approved Adoption Counsellors but who find the theme of adoption emerging as one aspect of the client’s life story.
At Wimbledon Guild we have a long commitment to providing CPD events focusing on attachment and our conferences are now an annual event. Thinking about a theme for 2018 it occurred to me that this is a neglected but deeply important consideration. John Bowlby described the instinct to form attachments as our primary survival strategy, and we know that the quality of relationships with caregivers has a profound impact on personality, neurological development, wellbeing and psychopathology. But adoption throws up further issues about identity and belonging that we hope to explore during the conference.
With regards to your presentation for the 2018 conference Blood and Water: Attachment, Adoption, Identity and Belonging what have you felt some of the challenges adoptees my face in searching for their birth mother or father?
I am not an Approved Adoption Counsellor but work in private practice. The search for birth parents will be one strand of my presentation but I cannot bring the depth of experience that some of our other conferences speakers have in this area. However, I do have clinical material concerning the complex issues that become evident when a client, as a result of a long therapy, begins to consider searching for the family of origin. These include idealisation of birth parents accompanied by the fear of disillusionment, experiencing the adoption as a rejection and thus there is a fear of that being repeated, and the fear of hurting adoptive parents.
There are also practical and procedural considerations. Any person over the age of eighteen who was adopted in England and Wales can legally search for birth family, just as the family have the right to search for an adoptee at that stage. This can raise further anxieties for both adoptee and adoptive family. Again, this is not an area of specialism for me but I do have some fascinating and concerning clinical material about the problems of reunion in the 21st century.
What are your hopes for the 2018 conference and broadly what would you like delegates to take away from the day?
We have four very different speakers approaching the issue of adoption from diverse but complementary angles so I anticipate a very rich menu that will have something for everyone – those who are already adoption specialists and those, like myself, who encounter the adoption story arising in other therapeutic work.
Two of our speakers, Karen Carberry and Graham Music, are specialists with many years of experience in the adoption field. Jenny Riddell will be drawing on her expertise as a couples’ therapist to deliver a talk from an unusual perspective, the impact of adoption on adult couple dynamics. My own presentation will, I hope, speak to other non-specialists whose work is informed by attachment and who may not have had an opportunity previously to devote a day to reflecting on adoption.
This conference is NOT an Ofsted / ASA approved training. I know that there can be confusion over when to refer a client for specialist counseling, and I have heard colleagues discuss their anxiety when clients raise the theme of adoption. I hope that this conference will clarify when we are obliged to refer on and when it is acceptable to continue an ongoing therapeutic relationship.
We will be exploring the conference theme from the perspectives of the adoption triangle – birth parents, adoptees and adoptive families. Perhaps we can think of the adoption square, with the therapist as another key figure in the drama. I hope that the combination of information, theory, clinical material and opportunities for discussion will inspire confidence in all delegates to engage more deeply and from a well-informed position when clients raise adoption as part of their narrative.
25th September 2017