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Adoption Competency Training for Mental Health Professionals
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Phone: (828) 695-6500


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3050 11th Avenue Drive SE
Hickory, NC 28602

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CASE logo Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) for Mental Health Professionals
Developed by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.)

For more information on C.A.S.E. please visit their website:

Training for Adoption Competency (TAC)
Catawba County Department of Social Services offers training for adoption competency to mental health clinicians who serve adopted children, adoptive parents or birth parents. TAC was developed by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E) in partnership with content experts in the field. It is the only adoption competency program specifically designed for mental health professionals, containing an in-depth clinical focus with 78 hours of instruction and a six-month clinical case consultation series designed to support the transfer of learning to practice. The curriculum is based on adoption knowledge, values, and skill competencies that were defined by a national panel of experts using the following definition of an adoption competent mental health professional developed by C.A.S.E. in collaboration with a National Advisory Board comprised of leading adoption practitioners, researchers, advocates and adoptive parents.

TAC is referenced in the recent report, “A Need to Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence among Mental Health Professionals,” by The Donaldson Adoption Institute (August 2013).

An adoption competent mental health professional has:
  • The requisite professional education and professional licensure
  • A family-based, strengths-based, and evidence-based approach to working with adoptive families and birth families
  • A developmental and systemic approach to understanding and working with adoptive and birth families
  • Knowledge, clinical skills and experience in treating individuals with a history of abuse, neglect and/or trauma
  • Knowledge, skills and experience in working with adoptive families and birth families
Expectations of Participants
The Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) program is an intensive training specifically designed to provide mental health professionals with the clinical knowledge and skills they need to offer quality mental health services to adopted children, youth, and adults, children preparing for adoption, birth parents and extended family members, prospective adoptive parents and adoptive families. TAC requires that participants:

  1. Participate in 11 full-day (6-hour) classroom sessions
  2. Complete one “at home” session
  3. Prepare for each session by completing pre-session assignments. These pre-session assignments require about one hour of preparation time, depending on the session
  4. Team with a participant to complete a final project to be presented in one of the last two sessions
  5. Complete several brief online surveys about select trainings
  6. Complete a pre- and post-test, a pre- and post-self-assessment of adoption competency and brief questionnaire on changes in practices
  7. Complete a 6-month clinical case consultation program following the classroom hours (6 two hour consultations).

Upcoming Trainings
The next TAC training is in Hickory, NC beginning September 2, 2016. Applications are due July 1, 2016. For more details see brochure. Scholarships are available for professionals working with adoptive families in Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Wilkes or Watauga County.

Find an Adoption Competent Therapist in your area:


Janine Szymanski, MS, LPA has been the clinical director of Family Net for six years. She has her MS from the school of psychology at Eastern Kentucky University. Janine is a LPA through the state of North Carolina. She is trained to provide PCIT and TF-CBT. Janine has over 20 years of experience in mental health including roles as staff psychologist and clinical program manager at Family Net and Mental Health Services of Catawba County. Throughout these 17 years, Janine has provided clinical services and supervised clinical services provided to adopted children and children in foster care. Janine is certified by C.A.S.E. to provide the Training for Adoption Competency to mental health providers. Janine is a trainer for Mental Health First Aid for Youth.

Chrissy Triplett, MSW, LCSW is a child welfare program manager at Catawba County Social Service. She has 15 + years of child welfare experience. She has her MSW from the JMSW program with UNC-Greensboro and North Carolina A&T and is licensed as a LCSW through the state of North Carolina. Prior to working as a program manager, she spent 6 years as the post care supervisor of the Child Wellbeing Project, and 9 years providing direct social work services in child welfare working in residential homes, child protective service and adoptions. Chrissy is certified by C.A.S.E to provide the Training for Adoption Competency to mental health providers. She is an approved facilitator for Darkness 2 Light training and facilitates the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit.

Dr. James Wachsmuth received his master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has served as the Director of a non-profit counseling agency, and the Practice Manager of a large Private Practice in Catawba County. Dr. Wachsmuth is an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He has over 17 years of experience doing therapy in both the private and non-profit sector, working with adults, children and families facing a variety of issues. He has been trained as an Adoption Competent mental health professional, and has worked with adoptive families for over 8 years. Dr. Wachsmuth was adopted himself at the age of 6 months.

For more information please contact contact Chrissy Triplett, LCSW,
at 828-695-4425 or