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An Innovative Social Worker And Grief Specialist ‒ An Exclusive Interview With Eleanor Silverberg

Eleanor Silverberg, founder of Jade Self Development Coaching, is a social worker, author, speaker and grief specialist whose intention is to help adults move forward stronger through diverse life-altering situational losses, applying the innovative 3-A Coping Framework she developed. Her specialty is assisting family caregivers of the chronically ill to cope and prevent burnout. Her mode of practice stands out as she combines existing grief models with conventional and practical strategies, featuring them in her books “Caregiving with Strength” and “Keeping It Together”. She has also created a modified mindfulness program in her book “Mindfulness Exercises for Dementia”. Eleanor holds a BA in Psychology, Master of Social Work, Certification in Bereavement Education, extensive training and practice in Mindfulness and over 20 years of Independent Grief Studies.

Eleanor Silverberg, Dementia/Caregiving/Grief Specialist

Could you tell us about your background so we can get to know you better?

I was born and brought up in Canada. As a Canadian, I was also brought up as a Second-Generation Holocaust Survivor bearing in silence the transmitted grief from the atrocities that my parents experienced as prisoners of war. I was too young to understand this as a child but it became increasingly apparent to me as I grew into adulthood. I felt deprived not having grandparents and the absence of most of our family who were killed in the war. As I grew older, I developed an intrigue with grief that had been embedded in every corner of my home. I studied grief academically and independently, pursuing a career as a social worker and grief specialist.

How have you applied your history and grief-related studies to your social work?

My intrigue with grief has influenced and has been applied in my writing, presentations and my work focussing not so much on death related grief but rather grief associated with the many other situational losses that people experience that do not get adequately acknowledged.

I am in private practice, founder of Jade Self Development Coaching, assisting my clients, empowering them to cope through life altering situations addressing adversity and loss. I do this applying the 3-A Coping Framework: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist® which I developed. As a means of addressing loss, the basic guiding assumptions of the 3-A Framework are that wherever there is adversity, there is loss and where there is loss, there is grief. There are disenfranchised situations such as in second generation trauma, loss due to family illness and job layoff where the loss does not get adequately acknowledged. It is beneficial for these situational losses and the impacting grief to be unmasked so they can be processed, and unburdened to strengthen coping resiliency. I bring these losses and the impacting grief to light.

The 3-A Coping Framework was originally devised during the years I was a community outreach social worker in dementia care prior to going into private practice. It emerged from my 2007 academic article published in the Omega Journal of Death and Dying entitled “Introducing the 3-A Grief Intervention Model for Dementia Caregivers: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist”. In addition to drawing from professional experience, I could also draw from my personal experience as a family caregiver for my father who lived the last 4 years of his life with dementia. It was apparent to me, also drawing from my grief background, that the caregivers grieve losing a family member not to death but to illness not being the person they were and no longer able to play the roles they played. This witnessing of the loss while caregiving impacts on well-being and ability to provide care. But the grief easily got overlooked since there has not been a death, and getting buried under the care demands. To address the grief so it can be acknowledged and processed, I wrote the article. After being academically published, the 3-A Grief Intervention Model was presented to professionals at several prominent conferences and well received. Professional training has also been provided. As well, the 3-A’s have been well received with family caregivers featured in 2 of my books “Caregiving with Strength” and “Keeping It Together: How to Cope as a Family Caregiver without Losing Your Sanity”.

Over the years, the model has been further developed and broadened out to serve a wider client population such as caregivers dealing with other serious illnesses and other loss circumstances such as job loss and divorce. Now referred to as the 3-A Coping Framework: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist, it houses, as an eclectic framework, in the Assist component several other methods in addition to grief strategies such as mindfulness and cognitive reframing. A basic strategy I devised is “SEEE for Yourself”.

What is unique about your coaching that makes you stand out?

Training my clients on applying the 3-A Coping Framework makes my coaching stand out. The intention is to face their losses and equip them with coping tools so they are empowered to monitor with awareness for themselves. I also bring strength to move forward from adversity and loss, reflecting the strength that was transmitted from my parents’ courageous ability to move forward from their experience as Holocaust Survivors.

In applying the 3-A Coping Framework, we are not limited to one method. I do not have an agenda where one size fits all. The Assist component of Acknowledge, Assess, Assist is customized with a toolbox of strategies/methods to draw from uniquely for the client. Most recently, Internal Family Systems has been added to the Assist component of the 3-A Framework, a psychospiritual non-pathologizing method that aligns with my values and mission.

Following is an inquiry exercise for monitoring with awareness for those presently dealing with a circumstance involving adversity and loss. Keep in mind the components are action words that operate singly and simultaneously. You are Assisting by Acknowledging and Assessing.


  • What is the circumstance?

  • What is the loss or losses since there is usually more than one.


  • What is the impact of the circumstance involving loss?

  • What are you feeling emotionally?

  • How have you been behaving?

  • How are you affected spiritually?


  • What coping strategies/methods can you draw from the past to assist in addressing the impact?

  • What is in your coping toolbox (e.g.) meditation, breathwork, medication, cognitive reframing, denial?

  • Are your coping strategies effective? Could you use new means of coping?

To further explore and learn more, how can you be reached?

I invite you to visit our website to learn more. Check out the pages where there are podcasts/videos with guided meditations, where you can preview/order my books and where there are free articles available including the 3-A published article. Also check out this month’s featured Assist article “Self Care is a Choice: SEEE for Yourself” (misspelling is intentional). See you there!

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Eleanor!


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