iStrive | Mental Health Professionals

iStrive is an opportunity for ACAP’s advanced clinical candidates and Master Degree graduates to provide individual and group psychotherapy services for iStrive clients while accumulating the clinical hours required for licensure and certification under supervision of senior faculty. This is a unique advantage in services for the community and these clients, as well as for ACAP.

Our New Endeavor:

ACAP’s iSTRIVE: Enriching the Lives Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum (ASD).

Let me begin with an anecdote of the types of clients we seek to serve:

David G. is 23 years old and is diagnosed with autism. He graduated from the special needs school he attended for most of his childhood and has been receiving supportive services. He is making a transition to a new day community and works part time. His family receives state supported services Monday to Friday. On the weekends, David is at home pacing and unable to get involved in the same activities that his siblings participate in, especially since they have become young adults.

Since these changes, David can become frustrated and isolated. This has resulted in tantrums and verbal outbursts on the weekends. The family members find themselves unable to attend to David with the kind of attention and engagement that he needs and fear that he will further lose ground on the gains he has made. ACAP is set to launch “ACAP’s iSTRIVE,” a Saturday pilot gap program that will provide these young adults with the emotional, social, and recreational supports they need on Saturdays.

Challenge, Opportunity, Solution


The Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis (ACAP) is prepared to help individuals with a range of developmental delays who have lost their usual support system and structured programs through the aging out process and are in need of continued social and emotional support. This unfortunate reality is being described as “the coming Tsunami,” 

One in forty-five children was identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder in NJ. These students have access to programs and services until age 21. However, when they graduate high school they “age-out.” They lose access to critical services. But then what?

In the next decade, a half million young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder will not have the skills needed to find a place to live, and a job. This is bringing a wave of anxiety to those who care for them. It is a transition that many parents of young adults on the spectrum fear for good reason. In addition to a reduction of supportive services as the students age- out, there is a lack of affordable weekend quality programs.


ACAP is a training and treatment center with extensive experience and success in treating the most vulnerable populations in New Jersey including at-risk families, elderly, children and emotionally disabled persons. ACAP has served the doubly underserved, both helpless and hopeless. It is also a psychoanalytic institute that offers a clinical training program leading to a Certificate in Modern Psychoanalysis and applied psychoanalytic Master of Arts degrees in collaboration with The Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

ACAP’s iStrive Center is the first Saturday service for young adults on the autism spectrum offered in Essex County. This expansive model combats the emergent inevitabilities in the neuro-diverse young adult community to overcome obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential.

This new program will provide a win-win service that will meet the needs of: a) aging out students who may have no other place to turn for services and weekend programming; b) provide the much needed support and respite for the family members who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and; c) provide hands on training and the hours necessary for ACAP students who are completing their master degrees and working towards credentialing and licensing.

The pilot program will start out by serving 10-15 students for four hours on Saturdays, 32 weeks a year (2 semesters). The salary expense for the program will be reduced by utilizing ACAP students to provide treatment and counseling. This internship will fulfill new accreditation guidelines and provide the additional clinical training hours needed for ACAP students to become effective mental health professionals, prior to graduation.

ACAP’s iSTRIVE Objectives:

The first objective will be to provide socio-emotional and vocational and prevocational mentorship, empowering neuro-diverse young adults to overcome obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential in all areas. Emerging adults, age 21 and over, whose essential life skills mature in a nontraditional pattern and are often considered to have plateaued simply because of chronological age. We want to encourage and promote the continued growth we know is possible. Our experience is that these valuable community members learn in divergent ways that are often sparked by emotional connectedness and coincides with the learning process and socialization opportunity. Our socio-emotional program provides this experimental platform combined with concrete skill building and self-advocacy training.

Our second objective, equally important, is to provide a support and educational network for the families of the nontraditional young adult. We recognize the commitment required to shepherd successful adulthood. Without support, parents can suffer burnout form confronting the challenges of multiple bureaucracies coupled with other family and work demands. ACAP’s iSTRIVE program offers opportunities for parents to thrive along with their adult children.

Our third objective is career networking and community awareness building. With our interactive process, individuals will begin to grow using opportunities provided to begin a fully satisfying and productive adulthood.

Throughout the three-year pilot program we will study and better understand the needs of our clients and families in a way that will allow us to create curricula to meet their comprehensive and growing needs. We will have data from continuous assessments to expand the services such as vocational training and residential services. Through various resources we will be able to expand the pilot program model and continue to fill an unmet need in the community.


For those who want to help support the program and our young adults, their families, and the many community partners who will benefit from it. Please feel free to indicate amount on the response card,  contact us, or click the donate button below. Every donation will be gratefully received and put to good use for ACAP iStrive.