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HOW DOES ELAN WORK?

is always important to remember that Elan is not a stop-gap measure. Its purpose is to permanently change attitudes and life patterns so that the student who graduates from Elan functions effectively in the mainstream of life. Elan is based on the knowledge that you cannot change behavior by simply eliminating negative actions. The adolescent must not only stop anti-social acts, he must learn a new way of doing things. However, learning new ways will not happen until the "pleasure" and guilt accumulation from the old ways are stopped. Unless firm limits are set, all the preaching and care in the world won't help. You are reading this brochure, so you know it well. We do stop misbehavior. Elan removes all opportunities for hedonistic, negative, anti-social actions. We totally eliminate certain avenues of "pleasure": Drugs, alcohol and sexual misconduct are all banned. We cut off these agents of guilt. We stop the dynamic that feeds on itself, the mistaken pleasure which also produces a tearing down of real self-esteem. In short: We stop what some psychiatrists call" acting out."

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And then we go much further. We provide alternative ways of doing things. We teach people how to achieve pride in themselves by functioning properly. We also deal with the essential questions the adolescent must answer. How did you get this way? What happened? What are you doing about it? When are you going to stop blaming others? What are your long range goals for your life? We have learned that the best way to make such a radical change is to provide the adolescent with learning experiences that enable him or her to acquire the skills of social interaction, and to maintain a psycho-dynamic program directed toward making sense of individual needs.

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