Elana Benatar MSW, MS, LCSW-C

Maryland License #17790
Phone: 301-960-1198 ext. 701


My work with clients at its core is both collaborative and creative. With kids, I love the process of working together to find playful ways to explore emotional challenges. Through sandtray, art and play therapy we will together create an understanding of their emotional landscape (and have some fun in the process). With parents, I use my background in Child Development and my own experience with countless kids to decode problematic behaviors and help parents understand how to meet their children’s underlying developmental and emotional needs.

I believe that relationships are a key to psychological health, and much of my academic and clinical training has focused on the importance of attachment throughout the lifespan.   One of my goals with every client is to improve the attachment relationship for both parents and children. I use play to help parents and children find mutual enjoyment, and I am always amazed at how much healing can happen through that connection.

In my work with adults, I try to take this playful and creative mindset into our work together.   I speak with children about “making friends with your feelings” and use this perspective to help adults accept and understand their emotional process.

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be able to do exactly what I love, and help children, families and adults in the process!


Elana Benatar holds two Masters degrees: one in Social Work (MSW) and one in Child Development (MS). Her experience and specialty are working with very young children and their parents. She enjoys helping families and children to understand how behaviors and conflicts are related to underlying emotional, developmental and relational issues.


B.A. – Wesleyan University – 2000

M.S. in Child Development – Erikson Institute, 2005

M.S.W. (Masters of Social Work) – Loyola University Chicago – 2006

Elana regularly attends workshops, seminars and conferences to stay abreast of the latest research and techniques in the field of family therapy and early childhood development.


Elana worked for 7 years in Chicago, IL at the Virginia Frank Child Development Center, an outpatient family service center and therapeutic nursery, where she offered a variety of intensive therapeutic services to families with young children. Elana has experience doing family, individual child, individual adult and child group therapy. She has also supervised social work interns and worked as a mental health consultant in an early childhood setting.

Therapeutic Techniques Used

Elana uses a combination of play, art and traditional talk therapy techniques to support young children in being able to identify and speak about various feeling states and thoughts. She feels it is important to involve parents and family members in any interventions offered to children and particularly enjoys working with parents and children together to strengthen their relationship and promote healthy modes of communication and attachment.

Attended Trainings in:

Child-Centered Play Therapy

Play based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Mindfulness with children

Sandtray therapy

Dyadic Developmental Therapy

Gender Non-confirming children