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Chroma and Relate work together in successful partnership



National arts therapy provider Chroma has partnered with relationships charity Relate to deliver additional counselling for adoptive parents whose children were already accessing Chroma’s creative arts therapies via the Adoption Support Fund.

The pilot, which offered counselling support to families as they adjusted to life post-adoption, initially ran for six months, but its success meant it was able to continue for a further six months. The sessions offered a confidential and supportive environment to talk through any issues the parent or parents were experiencing. Approximately 55 sessions took place via webcam which meant they were able to continue when the UK went into the first lockdown. By working together, Relate and Chroma were able to be responsive to the needs of the entire adoptive family, including the parents.

Chroma works closely with over 45 local authority post-adoption services and uses music, art and drama therapy to enhance parent/child bonding, strengthen family relationships, reduce anxiety and aggression and support children’s development.

Parents, who were a mixture of couples and single parents, accessed the service to overcome issues such as coping with their behaviour, communication, managing conflict, rows and arguments, other people’s behaviour, managing leisure time, disagreements about parenting and problems with children.

Evaluation of the pilot showed that users reported feeling more confident about their lives and better able to cope with difficulties they may face in the future. Every service user said they would come back to Relate if future problems arose and that they would recommend Relate to others to help repair relationship issues.

One user commented: “Coming to Relate and talking with a counsellor has helped me learn about myself, to value myself and actually start to find me, I’m much calmer and less stressed now.”

Another said: ’‘I was apprehensive about coming to Relate as I felt that it would unnecessarily be intrusive. However, our counsellor’s approach was very calming and reassuring. Thank you for your help.”

Relate counsellor Carlene Harvey, who delivered the sessions, said: “Adoptive parents have often gone through a great deal to fulfil their dream of having a child, including infertility and a long assessment process which can be incredibly exposing and touch on aspects of themselves which they haven’t yet explored with their partner. Individuals often create huge expectations on themselves as parents and they often feel pressure to be the perfect parent. In many cases the child has experienced past trauma which can in turn lead to challenging behaviour.

“A lot of the work I do with the parents is around helping them to see things from a different perspective, be more accepting of the reality and feel confident that they are doing a good job, and are being a ‘good enough’ parent. I also work on adjusting expectations and reminding them to focus on themselves and nurture their relationship. It has been a wonderful project and I’ve learnt so much from the families I have worked with in terms of their strength and ability to stick together.”

Sarah Casemore, director of operations at Relate, said: “We’re happy to have partnered with Chroma to provide counselling to adoptive parents. Adoption is a wonderful thing but it can sometimes reveal unexpected issues within a couple’s relationship or with a parent’s wellbeing so it’s important that people get the right support during the process of welcoming their new family members.

“A significant outcome of the pilot is that all parents involved have benefited from the experience and have left with a positive mental outlook towards their lives going forward. As a result, we are hoping to expand this service to offer more support to adoptive families as a way for them to work through the emotional side of things and better deal with relationship issues.”

Daniel Thomas, managing director at Chroma, added: “We are delighted that our partnership with Relate has delivered such great results. At the end of the day, happy children plus happy parents equals a contented family unit – which is essentially what we want to achieve. And it is great to know the success of the project has led to Relate looking to expand on this scheme as many more adoptive families will be able to benefit from it too.”