CREATIVE ALTERNATIVES OF NEW YORK

Rating: 4.91 stars   22 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Mental Health, Education

Location: 225 W 99th St New York NY 10025 USA

Mission: Since1983 Creative Alternatives of New York (CANY) has worked to achieve its missionof bringing healing through the use of creative expression to the mostvulnerable in New York City.CANY has over time developed a model of combining drama and group therapy tocreate an effective creative arts therapy, now providing programs inpartnership with 18 leading social service agencies in the greater New YorkCity area in a wide range of community based settings - mental health centers,residential settings and special schools.
Programs: Creative Alternatives contracts with 17 facilities in the greater New York area and Connecticut providing over 1500 groups annually. Facilities include residential treatment centers for abused children, hospitals, addiction treatment centers, HIV/AIDS clinics, safe shelters for victims of domestic violence, Veterans mental health programs and alternative school programs for at risk and troubled youth. Additionally, Creative Alternatives provides trainings to staff at partner facilities and other facilities in the use of creative arts as a therapeutic tool for treatment.

2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I came to the Introduction to Drama Therapy and the workshop was great! Not only did I get to see a small sampling of the techniques, but I also got to meet other people that are passionate about their work and incorporating Drama Therapy into their work.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Review from Guidestar
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

CANY is a wonderful organization of dedicated professionals who show a love and commitment to the work they are doing and provide a unique and effective clinical experience. As the Mental Health Coordinator for a program serving teen mothers, I was very pleased with the way CANY drama therapy gave our teens the opportunity to express their feelings safely through theater characters and learn about themselves. CANY drama therapy had special ability to help those kids who are most traumatized and most shut down to express underlying feelings of pain and hope, and also to help higher functioning teens to recognize their strengths, discover talents, face fear of failure and take risks like going back to school, identify career options and see new possibilities for an interesting, productive future. The CANY therapists who came to our houses were the highest quality professionals - - excellent skills and training, smart, engaging, well prepared to work with our challenging population, culturally sensitive and showed evidence of support with high quality supervision.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

observing how our teens involved with CANY became better able to deal with difficult thoughts and feelings and see more hope for their lives.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can see no need for change.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Attending even a single CANY workshop makes clear the power of using therapeutic theater in a group setting to heal or otherwise benefit myriad populations. The work has been shown to be particularly effective with individuals who have experienced trauma, and children have been among the best responders.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have directly experienced the results by attending workshops, and I have also heard numerous testimonials from those who have benefited from the work, as well as from medical doctors who are familiar with the results.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would try to generate additional resources so the work could be applied to a wider population.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I am writing to extol the virues of the CANY program. Prior to my retirement in 2009, I had been a middle/high school principal at a residential treatment facility for 15 years. Our program served adolescent boys and girls with severe psychiatic impairments. The CANY program was clearly one of the most effective therapeutic program we ever added to our school. The CANY co-leaders were skilled and committed to working with children who had serious behavioral and emotional issues. The CANY staff were extremely patient and understanding and they worked toward student involvement, knowing that if they achieved participation they would achieve desired results. It would be difficult to describe here the positive results of the CANY program due to the individualized therapeutic growth each participant gets from the experience of drama therapy. However, one key measure was the outstanding student attendance and participation in the CANY program. The final creative shows that each group presented during assemblies reflected not only the excitement , energy and creativity of our students but clearly reflected the talented and skilled CANY staff. Their ability to work with students with a wide range of academic and communication abilities truly enhanced and enriched the educational experience for our students. I would recommend the CANY program without reservation for any program that serves special needs children.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As principal of a school at a residential treatment center

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find ways to secure funding for schools wanting to introduce drama therapy to their programs. It would be of enormous value.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

What is unique about this organization?

Therapeutic value.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

I am currently an Drama Therapy intern working at CANY. This is my third internship and after interning in various mental health facilities I can attest that CANY is a truly unique in the way that it works with clients' strengths, utilizes a sense of play, and ultimately encourages the use of creativity and imagination as a pathway to health. I feel incredibly lucky to be learning from such wonderful therapists and leaders and working with inspiring clients every day.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've personally seen the results of this organization in the way that the groups function every day. The clients often enter the room upset, anxious, distracted, etc. and leave the room smiling, laughing, talking with one another, and eager to share their stories.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Expand the work even further into more environments.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 4 stars  

I interviewed Jonathan Hilton, Exec. Dir. for a radio program called City Watch a few years ago. He spoke with clarity to the issues of his organization and what it provides for their clients and to the greater needs of citizens in New York City who require trauma services that CANY can provide. I learned many months later that CANY received a contract with a new audience because of that outreach from the show. I have watched eagerly as CANY has grown and matured into a wonderful service organization broadening its definitions and reaching deep into the well of humanity's needs at such an important time as when trauma strikes. I recommend them highly for this award and hope that others help to provide the necessary financial structures for such important work.
Regards,
Deena Kolbert, Host/Producer, City Watch, WBAI

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've been an observer of any help that I was able to provide. I acknowledge making marketing and media suggestions and know that some of those suggestions have taken place, especially in their newsletter which I hope is sent to their elected officials.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

NA

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Have been involved on CANY's board for over twenty-five years. Its work continues to evolve and mature and remain authentic in its ability to offer a healing experience. It is a remarkable organization that remains dedicated to the concept that one's imagination is a powerful tool in fighting depression and despair, and that using one's imagination in the context of a group experience creates supportive, healing communities.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

shifting the perspective of traumatized children from feeling discarded and abandoned to feeling a sense of their own unique significance to the world.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Increase its size to reach more and more people in our community.

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Rating: 5 stars  

It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve as a CANY Board member for nearly four years now. As a veteran Communications professional of both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds, I can say wholeheartedly that CANY's excellent, dedicated, magnificently effective theater artists and drama therapists redefine "communications.” Specifically, these remarkable professionals use “metaphor” as a healing tool in a group context with individuals who have suffered emotional trauma: girls who have been sexually trafficked; women seeking shelter from domestic violence AND their children; refugees whose whole lives have been literally uprooted, teens who have been demonized by the world for being caught in a cycle of violence and anger. The CANY professionals are tireless in the art and science of their craft, fairly breathing life and health – through the gift of creativity -- into individuals who have been labeled and marginalized by nearly everyone else – and who suffer trauma on an ongoing basis, some from the time of their earliest memories. What dumbfounds me is the sustained, unflagging passion and energy with which the CANY staff perform their work – putting their hearts, souls, and brilliance into bringing health – through creativity – to individuals in several groups a day (I was exhausted just from reading the schedule). Each time I attend a group, I am moved to tears by what happens: the light goes on in the eyes of a young teen who has been pegged as a hopeless troublemaker, as he announces the role he has chosen for himself: a father who fiercely protects his kids from a gang. A young girl sitting quietly in the corner plays a role where she comforts another child and tells her “you’re safe now with me. I won’t let those men hurt you anymore.” I am so grateful to work with CANY and support what is nothing short of miracles that happen on a daily basis. And as a Board member, I am also struck by how CANY’s Executive Director Jonathan Hilton runs the organization with the skills of a champion helmsman at the wheel of a multi-masted ship: with skill, grace and clarity, supporting and encouraging, always inspiring staff and Board to work together and sail on to new destinations.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...Attending groups co-led by CANY drama therapists and theater artists, and by attending two special all-day training sessions for artists and mental health professionals. Magnificent!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

clone the Executive Director, Program Director, and Program Manager, and double the size of the organization to help bring healing to more and more people through the power of metaphor, the group, and creativity.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

I am an art therapist who has worked with CANY for many years, both as a clinician in the field with them and as a member of the board. I can attest wholeheartedly to the high level of commitment and professionalism that the members of the staff have. The enthusiasm and compassion which the staff emits is a moving to observe. The people with whom they work are invigorated and inspired to move in new directions that are powerful to see. Any grant which CANY received would be put to great use, helping some of the most under-served populations in NYC.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the domestic violence shelter where I worked with them. The children loved the CANY group and worked on hard issues in it. This is not an easy population to work with and the CANY therapist was committed, responsible, creative , and professional at all times.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

try to get them in more sites!

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

i had the pleasure to be an intern at CANY several years ago. Their work touches many disadvantaged groups of people and is a rich experience for clients and facilitators alike.
CANY's work gives a voice to people who ordinarily do not have one, it is creative, empowering and helps to bring about a true sense of community to those it serves.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing the changes in individual clients on a weekly basis

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

get them more funding

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar