Our Company Story: From Art Spa to Today
Nadia Jenefsky, MPS, LCAT, Clinical Director/Director of Child & Family Services tells the story of how New York Creative Arts Therapists of Williamsburg came to be.
As members of creative communities like Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn for almost 20 years, we were inspired to create an entrepreneurial model that understands the needs of people who think and live outside the box. We set out to bring the kind of therapy that fits the progressive, creative-minded lifestyle and individuality of our neighborhoods. When we opened our doors to our first clients, the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Drena and I met working as art therapists at a juvenile justice program in Manhattan that served kids who needed "one last chance" to make their lives better. We developed a deep friendship and passion for our work, filling the time with talk and screenplay ideas when our clients didn't show up for their therapy sessions. After many years working for city agencies, where we were seen either as social workers or “art ladies”, we felt frustrated with the limitations and red tape involved in getting our unique, effective services to the people who needed them. When our agency jobs ended, we seized the opportunity to take our services directly to the communities we wanted to serve: we cut out the middleman and got to work.
People delighted at doing therapy in an art studio. They loved making art in the waiting room instead of reading tabloid magazines. And they shared with us their frustrations with traditional talk therapy, felt energized and excited about tackling issues in a hands-on way.
As the neighoborhood community changed we responded by adding child and family services (way back in 2005 we only worked with adults) and LGBTQ services. Not only did we expand our client offerings we were growing too. We now serve over 200 clients per year and have twelve staff therapists and 5 graduate interns in our three locations: 2 Brooklyn offices in Bushwick and Williamsburg, and one amazing space in the Hudson Valley in Cold Spring. In 2018 we achieved our vision of having all of the creative arts therapies under one metaphoric roof: Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, Dance-Movement Therapy, and Music Therapy. We are the only practice in New York with a fully multi-modal staff.
We know that everyone—regardless of race, social status, or sexual orientation—carries life experiences that are profound, confusing, and sometimes painful. We have found no better way to help people make sense of their stories, than by inviting them to share them with a trusted and well-trained therapist. We are often humbled and moved by what our clients of all ages create, and this inspires us to continue to find new ways to bring our services to those who need it the most.
Drena Fagen, LCSW-R, LCAT Director of Programs