Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) is the intentional use of artistic processes (such as drama, art, or music) to achieve therapeutic goals. CAT can be utilized across cultural, gender, age, and socioeconomic lines.  The Youth Department at East Side Neighborhood Services provides free preventative and needs-based programming through trauma-informed individual and group drama therapy. Each program’s curriculum is unique and based upon several factors including age of youth, community climate, and community voice.

By participating in the Youth Department’s CAT Program youth will develop integral life skills that will improve their academic performance during the school day. Drama Therapy helps facilitate growth in many personal areas such as enriching self-esteem and interpersonal skills, promoting healthy coping mechanisms, and encouraging healthy risk-taking. Drama Therapy is active and experiential making it particularly useful in working with children and adolescents who may not have the words to ‘talk out’ a problem. Through story-telling, improvisation, and play participants explore their inner experiences and discover strengths, ultimately building resiliency.

Individual therapy referrals can be made directly to the CAT Program by self, parent/guardian, teacher, or program manager. In order to access individual therapeutic services, students must be members of one of the Youth Department’s out-of-school time programs. Family drama therapy is also available based on need and availability.

For more information, please contact Talia Smigielski, MA, RDT at 612-787-4020 or


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