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 creative arts 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 improve their academic performance during the school day. Creative Arts 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. 

East Side's CAT Program employs drama and art therapy. These methods are active, relational, and experiential, and they are particularly useful in working with children and adolescents who may not have the words to 'talk out' a problem. Our Creative Arts Therapists use art-making, storytelling, creative writing, music , play, and improvisation to facilitate spaces for self-expression, work through problems, and build resiliency.

Individual therapy referrals can be made directly to the CAT Program by self, adult caretaker, teacher, or program manager.

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


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