Elma Linz Kanefield, LCSW, CPC, PLLC, once herself, a professional singer, succumbed to her debilitating stage fright, which left her voice…silent. However, rather than remain devastated and at the effect of her fear, she transformed her fright into her life’s calling.

So passionate was Ms. Kanefield about the psychology of the performing artist that she closed her psychotherapeutic practice in the Midwest to relocate in New York City and open a private practice exclusive to performing artists. For the last three decades, she has been voicing the special, personal, and professional needs, problems, challenges and possibilities that confront performing artists at all ages and stages of their lives and their careers.

When Ms. Kanefield moved to Manhattan, she soon discovered that her specialization was truly unique. One performer referred to her as, “the Michael DeBakey of the psychotherapy world.” A singer said, “We need someone just for us.” And a pianist reflected, “I am a special needs person and I need an expert who understands those needs.”

In 1986, Ms. Kanefield became the Founding Director of The Juilliard School’s Counseling Services. She created the first of its kind, on-campus, fully staffed psychotherapy facility, offering unlimited, confidential sessions to serve the entire graduate and post-graduate student body. The Juilliard School’s Counseling Services remains the only mental health service for the performing arts student in an independent performing arts institution in the world. Ms. Kanefield has continued to serve The Juilliard School as a clinical and organizational consultant.

Ms. Kanefield expanded her repertoire of services and became an ICF-accredited Performance Potential Coach. She views coaching as a natural extension to her work as a psychotherapist to help performers connect their intangible insights and understanding to tangible goals and performances, resulting in both personal and professional performing success. She integrated her clinical background and abilities with her coaching training and skills to create Performance Potential Coaching. Ms. Kanefield coaches individual artists in her private coaching practice and offers groups of performers customized coaching Masterclasses entitled Living Your Performance Potential.

“As a Performing Arts psychotherapist and a Performance Potential coach, I want performers with whom I work to gain understanding and a conscious awareness of the effect that their histories have had on who they are and how they perform in life and, in particular, on stage, and to find that voice within that moves them to fulfill their special performance potential and create a lifetime of sustainable, successful and authentic performances in the world.”

Elma Linz Kanefield, LCSW, CPC, PLLC,

Not only has Ms. Kanefield written on, and lectured about, her specialization, but her pioneering career and expertise on stage fright has been written about and quoted in The New York TimesTime MagazineThe US and Canadian Opera NewsIn Style Magazine, The Daily News, and other trade publications.

In addition, Ms. Kanefield’s philanthropic work includes Board memberships on:  The Actors Center, The New York New Music Ensemble, The Juilliard Council, The Actor’s Fund: The Dancer’s Resource Advisory Council, and Chair of the Artist for the Cure Benefit at Carnegie Hall. In 1999, Ms. Kanefield became a member of The Lotos Club, an arts and literary club founded in 1870 in New York City. As a member, she was asked to serve on The Lotos Foundation Board that offers grants to noteworthy arts organizations in the city.

Ms. Kanefield attended Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut and attained her undergraduate degree with honors in psychology at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. She went on to earn her Masters of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and did her post-graduate studies at the Psychoanalytic Institute in St. Louis in Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Ms. Kanefield also studied at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City and Yale Music Summer School in Norwalk, Connecticut. She is a member of Actors Equity.

 Elma Linz Kanefield believes that the performing arts, psychotherapy and coaching have much in common.


  • All are live and interactive.
  • Intuition, talent, training, and discipline are fundamental.
  • Being in the moment is vital, as are mindfulness, availability and possibility.
  • Each is a powerful form of communication.
  • Music, drama, dance, the vocal arts, psychotherapy and coaching change who we are, what we do, and how we do it in profound and life transforming ways.