CYMH 5621
Mental Health Practice Skills for Adoption Facilitators

3.0 Credits


This course builds on the concepts introduced in (CYMH 5611: Intro to Adoption and Permanency Planning) and focuses on ways of supporting adoptive children and families who are experiencing mental health challenges. This second course focuses on clinical skill development and is based on the Center for Adoption Support and Education training for Adoption Competency. Participants will integrate adoption competent knowledge, skills, and values into their practice with adopted children, adoptive families, birth parents and extended family members. Particular attention will be focused on the multiple mental health challenges children present in adoptive families and ways of supporting adoptive families through the process of healing in order to enhance healthy family formation.

Delivery Method

Online, self-paced.


Approval by the Program Coordinator.

Recommended Requisites

Completion of a recognized bachelor's degree or master's degree, a degree in social work, child and youth care, nursing, education or psychology, and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0


By working through the learning activities in this course, you will:

  • Identify clinical issues associated with separation and loss and attachment, and articulate their implications for clinical intervention.
  • Identify clinical issues associated with a history of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma, and articulate their implications for clinical intervention.
  • Evaluate a range of evidence-based assessment models for recognizing and intervening with children's mental health challenges.
  • Develop clinical skills in working with adoptive children and adoptive families on issues of loss, grief, separation, identity formation, and attachment.
  • Develop clinical skills in working with adopted children and youth and adoptive families on issues related to the impact of genetics and past experiences on adjustment and the psychological well-being of adopted children.
  • Demonstrate use of a range of evidence-based therapies to effectively engage adoptive families toward the mutual goal of helping the children to heal.
  • Demonstrate specific strategies for empowering parents to strengthen, develop, and practice parenting skills that support healthy family relationships.
  • Demonstrate cultural, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive competence in working with diverse adoptive and birth families.
  • Examine the context and cultural imperatives when placing Aboriginal and Métis children.
  • Demonstrate skill in advocating with other service systems on behalf of adoptive children and families.
  • Demonstrate an integrated practice orientation to working with mental health issues in adoptive families.

Course Outline

CYMH 5621: Mental Health Practice Skills for Adoption Facilitators includes the following 12 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Clinical Issues in Providing Therapeutic Services: Grief, Loss, and Separation
  • Lesson 2: Techniques to Support Children's Recovery from Grief and Loss
  • Lesson 3: Evidence-based Assessment Practice in Attachment Recovery
  • Lesson 4: Evidence-informed Practice in Children's Mental Health
  • Lesson 5: Clinical Work with Adoptive Families--Managing Challenging Behaviours
  • Lesson 6: Clinical Skills to Help Adoptive Families Cope with Stress and Promote Health Development
  • Lesson 7: Clinical Skills to Work Effectively with Different Types of Adoptions
  • Lesson 8: Openness in Adoption and the Birth Family
  • Lesson 9: Preserving the Adopted Child's Racial, Cultural, and Birth Family Heritage
  • Lesson 10: Adopting Indigenous Children--Special Considerations
  • Lesson 11: Interprofessional Practice
  • Lesson 12: Integrating Knowledge, Values, and Skills

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

The following textbooks are required for this course. You are responsible for sourcing and ordering your own textbooks.

  1. Gray, D. D. Nurturing adoptions: Creating resilience after neglect and trauma. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-1-84905-891-9
  1. Hoy, T. Second time foster child: One family's fight for their son's mental healthcare and preservation of their family. New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2012.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-1-61448-160-7

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the "mail" tool in the Learning Environment or by phone. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.


To successfully pass this course, you must achieve a passing grade of 70% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project.

Assignment 1: Integration Journal Part A 12.5%
Assignment 2: Evidence-based Decision-making--Applying the Skills in Practice 25%
Assignment 3: Integration Journal Part B 12.5%
Assignment 4: Critical Analysis in Adoption Mental Health Practice--Informed Consent and Interview Preparation * 5%
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis in Adoption Mental Health Practice* 20%
Final Project: Case Study 25%
Total 100%

* Mandatory