About Elma

I want the performers with whom I work to gain an understanding and a conscious awareness of the effect that their histories have on who they are and how they perform in life, particularly on stage. I want them to find that voice within that moves them to fulfill their special performance potential and create a lifetime of sustainable, successful and authentic performances, on stage and off.”

Elma Linz Kanefield, LCSW, CPC, PLLC, once herself a professional singer, succumbed to debilitating stage fright as a young performer 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 to New York City and open a private practice exclusive to performing artists. For the last four decades, she has been voicing the special personal and professional needs, challenges and possibilities that  performing artists face 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, the pioneering heart surgeon, 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 our 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 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 in Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy at the Psychoanalytic Institute in St. Louis. In New York City, Ms. Kanefield became a Certified Professional Life Coach at iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.  She also studied at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City and Yale Music Summer School in Norwalk, Connecticut. Ms. Kanefield is a member of Actors Equity.

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’s 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.

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.

Elma is currently completing a book reflecting her life’s work entitled the diva syndrome  Reaching Your Performance Potential.

 Elma believes that the performing arts and her work have much in common.

  • Both are live and interactive.

  • Intuition, training, and discipline are fundamental.

  • Being in the moment is vital, as are listening, fearlessness and intuition.

  • Each is a powerful form of communication.

  • Music, drama, dance, the vocal arts, and my work change who we are, what we do, and how we do it in profound ways. 

    Both are transformative… the central focus being human performance potential