The Help Group’s Advance LA recently named Dr. Holly Daniels as its new director. Dr. Daniels, a licensed marriage and family therapist and meditation teacher, will oversee day-to-day operations of the program and staff and will be leading growth and expansion efforts in the coming months. Dr. Daniels recently took time to share her thoughts about Advance LA and what the future holds.
What drew you to Advance LA?
Advance LA has built a rich history of innovation in the field of transition services – coaching, transitional living, social activities, parent groups, and conferences. I’m thrilled to be part of an organization that’s leading the way on so many fronts.
We’re excited about your experience and your vision for the program. Can you tell us about your background with young adults?
I ‘ve had the privilege of working with a number of excellent mental health treatment centers throughout Southern California, including teams at Monte Nido and Associates, the Valley Community Clinic, The Canyon in Malibu, and the Sober College residential treatment center. Throughout my career, I’ve specialized in helping young adults with co-occurring addictions, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and mood and anxiety disorders.
I’m also a mother of two teenagers, so I see the difficulties facing young adults today through the lens of a parent and a professional. All young people are searching for that balance between independence and interconnection as they navigate through life.
What are some of the challenges that make navigating life more complicated for the young adults with special needs served by Advance LA?
Young people with special needs want to move forward with their lives as much as their peers, but they may need additional tools and guidance due to executive functioning difficulties, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, or other social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.
This is a sobering figure, but an estimated 85 percent of young adults with special needs are either unemployed or underemployed as they enter young adulthood. Often these individuals try and subsequently drop out of college, get lost in the subtle social dynamics of workplace culture, or lose motivation and drive as the structure and routine in their lives diminish.
How does Advance LA help?
Our experienced, multi-disciplinary staff and our coaches provide resources, support, and training for adolescents and young adults with special needs. Our services are tailored to the individual to provide support for personal needs in key areas, including executive functioning, life skills, social connections, academic pursuits, health and wellness, and internships and careers.
My philosophy has long been that strength-based, solution-focused techniques work best with young adults who need support moving forward, and that’s something Advance LA has done since its inception. We collaborate closely with our client, the coach, therapists, family members, teachers, and workplace managers to encourage our clients to recognize their personal strengths, as they work to learn the skills they need to achieve greater success as adults.
Where do families fit in at Advance LA?
If those first steps into adulthood don’t go well, young adults with special needs can find themselves disconnected from a purpose, a community, and institutions that can support them. Parents are often the ones to step in to seek help to move forward. We value parents as integral members of the team, and we want to serve their needs as well.
Parent workshops at our Day for Young Adults and our monthly P2P groups offer a way for parents to connect with other parents and share successes and challenges in supporting young adults in their transition to increased independence. We also provide parent coaching, and we provide all of our parents with weekly updates and quarterly review sessions for the young adults in our programs so that parents can stay informed and join with us in supporting their young adults in the healthiest ways possible.
As you know, we say that Advance LA offers the answer to parents’ question “What happens next?” As the new Director of Advance LA, can you share with us “What happens next?”
Sure! In the coming months, Advance LA will be refining our programs and expanding our services to provide greater tools and resources to young people. We’ll also be increasing and unveiling additional social opportunities and support group services to help clients and families. And on a personal level, I look forward to helping the program grow and expanding our services to reach even further in the future.
About Advance LA
Advance LA offers the answer to one of the most frequently asked question by parents of teens and young adults with special needs, “What happens next?” The personalized program provides clients with the experiences and opportunities necessary to lead a successful adult life, and it offers much-needed support in several key areas that facilitate a greater level of independence. Through its many programs and services, the team at Advance LA hope to inspire personal growth and development, offer a sense of mastery and accomplishment, and allow each client to ‘advance’ to greater levels of independence. More information can be found at www.advancela.org.