People are under more stress and demands than ever before. It’s common to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Individual therapy helps people to identify areas of discomfort and develop a plan to manage emotions, relationships, and stress in a healthy way. While remaining sensitive to each person’s lifestyle and needs, Dr. Elia primarily utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in her approach to treatment. CBT is a collaborative and goal-oriented psychotherapy that focuses on current symptoms and concerns, and teaches specific skills and strategies for managing them. An abundance of research over the past several decades supports the effectiveness of CBT for treating many emotional problems such as, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, trauma, stress management, relationship challenges, anger management, and addiction. Dr. Elia also has expertise in working with individuals undergoing stress related to dating and relationships. Dr. Elia also integrates mindfulness techniques as well as understanding the role of early attachments and family relationships on ones current functioning in the world.
During the initial phase of treatment, Dr. Elia gathers a comprehensive understanding of the client’s reasons for seeking treatment, personal strengths, and the ways that the client has coped with stressors in the past. Based on this assessment, Dr. Elia and the client together identify attainable and individualized treatment goals.
Dr. Elia values and respects the unique strengths and potential of each client and creates a safe, warm, and non-judgmental environment where the client can begin a process of self-discovery and growth. She encourages self-awareness through examining early childhood experiences and family relationships in order to better understand current patterns of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Overall, individual therapy focuses on empowering the client to replace unhealthy life patterns with more self-enhancing attitudes and constructive actions and decisions. As a result, the person feels more satisfied with life and achieves a higher sense of well-being.
Dr. Elia offers couples therapy across various contexts: dating, co-habitating, pre-marital, or married. Couples who find themselves engaging in frequent conflict, experiencing unsatisfying communication patterns, having power struggles, experiencing betrayal, having intimacy difficulties, facing significant transitions, or enduring other threats to their relationship may benefit from couples therapy.
Common disagreements experienced by couples involve: money, dual careers, roles and responsibilities at home, sex, in- laws, and parenting. Over time, as a result of these stressors, resentment and frustration build, the friendship is threatened, and the couple drifts apart. A stressful relationship can negatively impact other parts of life, such as work, physical health, and children.
Despite the strain that relationships may have on one’s life, initiating couples therapy is often not easy, and couples sometimes wait a significant period of time to seek support. Some find it challenging to share relationship difficulties with a therapist who they just met. Others feel discouraged and doubt that the therapeutic process will be helpful. However, it is sometimes difficult to go beyond the immediate issue without an objective party to help neutralize the high emotions in order to get to a place of understanding and negotiation. This is where couples therapy can help.
Dr. Elia supports couples in identifying changes that are needed in the relationship and in the behavior of each partner in order for both individuals to feel satisfied. Through therapy, couples begin a process of understanding themselves, their partner, and the underlying source of their problems. They are able to look at what’s “really going on,” rather than getting bogged down in hurtful petty arguments or destructive patterns. Couples therapy involves learning how to prevent the negative cycles by becoming aware of the triggers and maladaptive patterns in the relationship. Couples learn to develop new ways of managing challenges in the relationship, communicating more effectively, and valuing the relationship and each other.
When adolescents show signs of poor academic performance, disruptive behavior, isolation, physical symptoms not explained by the medical field, or lack of motivation, it can often be a warning sign that they are experiencing some sort of distress. Adolescence can be a trying time for both teenagers and their families. The teenager’s constant attempts to exert independence are often met by parental roadblocks. Sometimes adolescents will become depressed, anxious, rebellious, angry, use substances, or begin lying or stealing as a cry for help. It is imperative to take these calls for help seriously and to seek professional attention before they intensify.
Dr. Elia strives to uncover the underlying root of the symptoms that are manifested. She helps adolescents identify and verbalize their thoughts and emotions. She teaches them coping skills to manage their emotions, peers, family members and various life circumstances.
It has been said that parenting is the most difficult job, and the most important responsibility, one will ever have in life. Children do not come with a parenting recipe. As a result, parents usually either do what their parents did, or they do the exact opposite, depending on their opinion of the parenting they received. Overall, parents aim at being the best parent they can be.
Child psychologists have done research on different parenting styles, the effects of discipline, and how children respond to various people and life events (i.e., divorce, step-parents, abuse, sibling conflict, etc.). This knowledge has allowed psychologists to develop effective treatment interventions for children and families. Parenting coaching passes this knowledge onto parents.
Parenting skills coaching is not just for parents of “difficult” children or children with serious psychological challenges. Such coaching is worthwhile for every parent because it can help parents do the best job possible in raising their children, and it can enhance parents’ confidence in their parenting ability.
Dr. Elia supports parents in learning effective ways of managing their children's behavior, and improving the parent-child relationship. Specifically, parenting coaching helps parents to understand the underlying causes of their child’s misbehavior or challenges, gain insight about the role they play in the child’s strengths and limitations, and identify strategies and resources that are needed to improve the child’s functioning. Parenting coaching provides a basis for teaching parents to understand what children need from adults to foster their emotional and intellectual development.
Family therapy involves all or most family members. Often, challenges experienced by one family member impact the overall well-being of the family. For instance, a child’s behavioral, emotional, or academic concerns may affect the parents, the marital relationship and/or siblings. Likewise, a parent’s struggle with depression or substance abuse may impact various family members.
Through family therapy, Dr. Elia encourages all family members to identify areas of concern, share their unique perspective, and establish goals for treatment. The focus of family therapy is to help family members look at the role they each play in contributing to the problems at hand, to examine patterns and belief systems, to develop insight into the “root” of the problem, and to determine ways to negotiate and get needs met. Family sessions are forums in which increased understanding, empathy, respect and problem-solving occur, contributing to a more stable and peaceful family environment.
Dr. Elia works as a consultant with various organizations and health departments on developing and facilitating training curriculum for evidence-based interventions that aim to make long-term behavioral change. She has experience in developing structured manualized interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy. These projects have been funded by various entities such as the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, she has extensive experience developing and facilitating trainings on evidence-based practices. Trainings involve didactic presentation, role plays, and interactive learning. Many of these trainings have been supported by grants from various agencies in the department of Health and Human Services.
As a consultant, she has offered on-going clinical supervision to staff at various agencies who deliver evidence-based interventions. Supervision may be face-to-face or involve conference calls. She also provides technical assistance to agencies in order to support them in implementing evidence-based interventions.