Working with couples who adopt - the impact of adoption on the parental couple

Course overview

This half-day course considers the nature and psychodynamics of intimate adult couple relationships and the momentous impact on partners becoming parents.  When parenthood happens as a result of adoption, this transformation from couple to family is usually more complex as it often follows a series of traumatic losses that happen before the children join the family. When couples struggle to work through and mourn these past losses, it can impact on their capacity to offer a psychological home where their adopted children’s own preceding traumatic losses can be safely accommodated. In fact, adopted children and adoptive parents’ separate but corresponding losses can come together in an explosive way, sometimes leading to the breakdown of the adoption and always resulting in considerable distress to both parents and their children.

This course helps making sense of these presentations and suggests ways of working with adoptive parental couples to untangle dovetailing traumas in order to ease some of these unconscious pressures.

The course will offer a brief psychodynamic overview of the unconscious processes involved in making, maintaining and sometimes breaking intimate adult couple relationships. We will consider the momentous psychological transformations the couple relationship undergoes with the arrival of children. We will then explore the particular and often traumatic losses that can form part of the couple’s shared history leading to the adoption process, which, in itself can place a considerable psychological burden on the couple. Adopted children usually arrive with their own complex world of external and internal deprivations and require a particularly resilient parental container at a time when the adoptive couple might already feel psychologically vulnerable.

We will explore these issues through a mixture of presentation and discussion and aim to use illustrative clinical case material whenever possible. We encourage course participants to present their own anonymised clinical dilemmas and thoughts around these issues so that a lively dialogue can develop between presenters and course participants.

Finally, we will suggest pre-course reading as well as further background reading to orientate participants.

  • To develop an understanding of some key concepts of the unconscious dynamics of couple relationships.

  • To consider the theory and practice of working through traumatic losses of parental couples, and the difficulties that can result when the process of mourning is avoided or incomplete.

  • To gain insight into what the arrival of children can stir up in the adopting couple and what couples, in return, can unconsciously project into their children, whose arrival might threaten their psychic equilibrium.

  • To consider effective levels of intervention to prevent adoption breakdown and alleviate distress in the adoptive family, including containment through interpretation and working from the couple state of mind.

  • And finally, to discuss the psychological impact on therapists and social workers and think about ways of managing the often conflicting pressures.

This course is particularly suited for adult-, family-, or child and adolescent psychotherapists who work with individuals, couples or families who have adopted or are considering adoption or fostering. It is also aimed at colleagues who work with couples and individuals affected by traumatic losses, such as infertility or loss of pregnancy or seeing parents or parental couples struggling to manage their adopted child(ren) and/or whose couple relationships are strained following the adoption. The course can also be of particular interest to social workers and parenting support workers, particularly working in adoption and fostering. 

This course is not aimed at adoptive parents.

Krisztina Glausius is a couple psychoanalytic psychotherapist and is a former Head of Clinical Services at Tavistock Relationships. Currently she is a visiting supervisor and lecturer at both the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Tavistock Relationships.

Whilst at Tavistock Relationships, Krisztina developed several innovative approaches for treating couple and family distress, ranging from time limited couple therapy through to services providing therapeutic support to adopting parents or conflicted separating couples. Krisztina also worked as senior research psychotherapist on Tavistock Relationship’s randomized controlled trial examining the effectiveness of its Parents in Conflict Service and was part of the clinical team delivering the Parents in Dispute Project, a Mentalization based intervention aimed at helping high conflict separated parental couples to ensure better outcomes for their children.  Amongst her publications, Krisztina has co-authored several papers resulting from these projects, as well as informative guides to support parents who separate, and for professionals looking for ways to understand and work with couples who adopt. Krisztina’s work in these projects involves creative applications of psychoanalytically informed therapeutic work with couples, groups and individuals.

Krisztina is currently in an independent practice and she sees couples and individuals in her private practice, which is in South East London.

These courses will be delivered using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.
You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.

Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

New dates will be advertised here in due course. Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list.

New dates will be advertised here in due course. Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list.

Certificate of attendance
Admission status:
Course lead:
Leezah Hertzmann

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