This topic is intriguing when you think about it. Youth are in foster care for a reason; they don’t have the two most influential people in their lives (their parents), or they do, but those two people aren’t what’s best for them! Therapy is one of the first things a social worker will recommend for children/ youth in these situations, and a good therapist can be the difference between a life free from the traumas of your past and a life full of fighting to break the chains of trauma from your past.
Good mental health is a pivotal factor in the success of anyone experiencing foster care, and it’s challenging to navigate. Good mental health care can make a big difference in the lives of foster youth if the quality of therapists is there when it comes to therapy provided by foster care agencies. I have experienced firsthand the quality of care regarding therapy foster care youth receive. My therapy experience wasn’t the best, and my therapist didn’t specialize in trauma. The therapy I received was never adequate and felt like your everyday (regular) therapist. Because of how much trauma young people in foster care can experience, I believe specialized therapists are something the people in charge of hiring therapists assigned to foster youth should look into. It is important to get therapists specializing in emotional and physical trauma so that the youth can work through, talk about, and heal from the traumatic experience of being in the system and the situations that got them there in the first place. There are different types of therapy in psychology. There are many studies on what kind of therapy is specifically recommended for people who have experienced childhood trauma. For example, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, somatic therapy, nervous system (body) therapy… the list goes on. None of these therapy forms are available, recommended, or provided by the foster care system to youth in and out of foster care. But those options of therapy are often the most effective for us. It’s an area in the foster care system that needs some looking at and improvement. If we’re being honest, kids in the system are in some way already at a disadvantage in life; but there is something we can do to help negate that truth, and a part of that is to get better quality therapy for youth!
In conclusion, foster youth need a safe place to work through their trauma, release it, and have a strong shot at everyday life. Foster youth and foster alum don’t get the advantage of having present, supportive, and loving parents; that’s something you need in this world. A robust support system, the conversation about quality therapy for foster youth, and the options available for healing childhood trauma in foster youth can mean a world of difference if changes are made. Starting early with young people in foster care can set them up with great mental strength when aging out of care and starting a life of their own with a good foundation created with the assistance of a great therapist! Let’s put this conversation out there and make it something that is acknowledged!