Individual & Family

Individualized Transition Support

Elana has expertise in all phases of the Transition process and is available for initial consultation, strategic planning, and ongoing support. Some clients seek initial information and a strategic road map, and then shift to an as-needed support basis. Others require more in-depth, ongoing support to increase motivation, catalyze action, manage anxiety, foster self-awareness and receive organizational coaching. Elana pays special attention to foundational issues such as regulation, executive function, language and processing capability, resiliency, emotional reactivity and level of self-awareness because of the essential role they play in one’s ability to become independent and happy.

Elana holds certifications as a DIR/Floortime Practitioner, a Developmental Disability Sexuality Educator and a Young Adult PEERS Program Facilitator.

Steps to a Healthy Life Transition:

Elana’s first step is to identify and formulate a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s Transition needs. If needs have already been identified, then Elana begins by engaging her clients in a process of examination, reflection, and prioritization to assure that existing transition plans and goals match their individual strengths, challenges, interests, temperament, personality and capabilities. This discovery process ensures that the individual emerges with short and long term goals that are comprehensive, step-wise, practical and attainable.

Once the individual’s Transition goals have been expanded, evaluated and prioritized Elana embarks on the vital process of guiding her clients to strategize what resources, approaches, strategies, experiences, and individuals are needed to successfully move from brainstorming and planning to implementation and real world experiences. This highly individualized road map on how to effect positive change incorporates the individual’s short and long term goals, methods for expanding self-awareness and personal growth, strategies for anticipating and managing goals.

Elana provides guidance, coaching, support, problem-solving, advocacy, networking, self-awareness building, social coaching, executive function support, feedback sessions and other services needed to foster her clients’ personal growth and insight as well as facilitate effective communication and meaningful collaboration between the individual & their family and agencies, schools and workplace or internship environments.

Examples of Transitional issues include:

• Strengthening social relationship skills

• Improving the nature of and reducing patterns of conflict in current relationships

• Getting out of the house ~ becoming a more active member in one’s community

• Selecting and applying to the best options for continuing education post-high school or GED

• Managing the organization, mental effort, cognitive challenges and emotional stress of academic work

• Seeking an entry point into the workforce

• Embarking on career exploration

• Shifting into a new job or career domain

• Work readiness skill building

• Gaining and maintaining a level of independence and self-awareness

• Breaking unhealthy emotional patterns and reactivity

• Accomplishing a personal goal that will require making significant changes in behavior and thinking

• Understanding a new diagnosis and assessing its impact moving forward in life

• Adjusting to a major life change

• Shifting the responsibility of managing one’s own needs (social, emotional, medical, etc.) after a period of dependence on others

• Improving communication skills

• Strengthening self-regulation (emotional, sensory, cognitive)

Executive Function and Strategic Thinking

Our executive functions provide the vital tools, strategies and thinking needed to accomplish tasks, think strategically, make goals and gain positive momentum in our lives. A combination of higher order thinking, sequencing and attention regulation – executive functions are one of the best predictor of successful outcomes in all stages of development and in all contexts of our lives.

Executive functions dictate the quality of everything we do, both big and small:

  • making a sandwich
  • maintaining a daily routine
  • planning a party
  • selecting an activity, course of study or job
  • starting, maintaining and completing a project
  • navigating work or school successfully
  • solving a problem or making a decision
  • and so much more…..

This vital brain function is typically compromised in individuals on the Autism Spectrum, as well as for those who struggle with significant levels of pervasive anxiety, developmental delays or attention based challenges. Individuals who struggle with executive function tend to have challenges with:

  • cognitive flexibility
  • strategic thinking
  • inhibitory control
  • attention regulation
  • active working memory
  • decision making and problem solving

Elana considers executive function support as one of the cornerstones of her clinical work because it is one of the most vital skills needed for individuals seeking increased meaning, motivation, momentum, independence and overall success in the pursuit of their goals and dreams.

Social-Emotional Development

For many adolescents and young adults with challenges, the biggest difficulty they face as they transition into adulthood and independence centers around struggles with social-emotional regulation and initiating & maintaining relationships. Individuals who have had lifelong struggles with social relationships and emotion regulation will likely experience a spike in difficulty as they approach young adulthood and their social demands increase in scope (relating to a wider range of individuals and being on one’s own in workplace, school, or community settings) and change in meaning (dating, finding a roommate, establishing lifelong friendships). Whether the social-emotional difficulty arises from a diagnosis or is simply a part of an individual’s temperament and personality, social-emotional challenges must be explicitly and comprehensively addressed or they are likely to carry on into adulthood as chronic issues. A tremendous amount of work can be done to effectively support these individuals in building:

  • social cognition (social thinking, behaviors and perspective taking)

  • emotional intelligence (empathy, reciprocity, engagement)

  • emotion regulation (reduce reactivity and increase resiliency and coping strategies)

  • relational capability (friendships, family members, co-workers, peers, social interactions).

Please note that although Elana utilizes her counseling background in her consultation and clinical work, she is not a counselor. Individuals wrestling with mental health issues that require therapy or medication will be given referral suggestions for professionals trained to address those needs.

Resiliency, Regulation & Self-Awareness Building

The keys to success in life often center upon one’s ability to manage the unexpected, recognize opportunity and take advantage of it when it arises, regulate one’s thoughts and emotions, and make choices that align with one’s needs and goals. In order to do any of the aforementioned list with grace, one must possess skills in both resiliency and self-awareness. The ability to be resilient affords the opportunity to handle disappointment and difficulty without sinking into despair, anger or paralysis. Resilient people can bounce back because they’re able to manage their emotions well enough to still problem-solve. Resilient people can learn from a difficult experience because they have not been hijacked by their emotions, a phenomenon that wipes out their ability to think strategically and adjust to the situation at hand.

Regulation of our sensory, emotional, cognitive and physical systems is fundamental to one’s ability to be independent and maintain healthy relationships. Even the best of plans, methods, programs and techniques will fail to bear success if an individual is not regulated and equipped with the support, tools and insight to maintain regulation in a wide variety of contexts and regain a sense of equilibrium once having become dysregulated.

Self-Awareness is similarly a vital life tool that, if present can enrich one’s life tremendously. It affords one the ability to make effective choices, inform one’s decision-making so that the outcomes are more likely to meet their needs, and is directly related to how successfully one can cope with a stressful situation. A person who possesses Self-Awareness not only knows what works well for them and thus gravitates to experiences that are likely to bear positive outcomes, but even more importantly what doesn’t work well and what self-care is needed during times of duress.