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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services Announces New Milestone in Creative Arts Therapy Program

Since the program's expansion as part of ThriveNYC, approximately 4,000 creative arts therapy group sessions have been conducted

NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services' fourth annual art exhibit "MySelf" showcases work from participants in the country's largest jail-based creative arts therapy program

Oct 11, 2018

This artwork by Pedro Rivera is among the pieces showcased in the exhibit.
New York, NY

Today, NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services announced that its Creative Arts Therapy Program has conducted approximately 4,000 group sessions of individuals detained at Rikers Island since expanding in December 2016. The expansion, part of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, has enabled Correctional Health Services to enhance the country’s oldest and largest jail-based creative arts therapy program.

Correctional Health Services also announced the launch of “MySelf,” a multidisciplinary art exhibit featuring the powerful narratives of Creative Arts Therapy Program participants. The exhibit comprises approximately 80 pieces, ranging from self-portrait drawings and collages to poems and music compositions created over the past year under the guidance of creative art therapists. Correctional Health Services’ fourth annual art exhibit is made possible with the support of the School of Visual Arts. The exhibit is on view at the School of Visual Arts from October 11 through November 16, 2018. Gallery hours are as follows:

  • Mondays 12:00 – 2:00 p.m., 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesdays 12:00 – 2:00 p.m., 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Fridays 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Other viewings are available by appointment by calling (212) 592-2610. Images of select artwork from this year’s exhibit are available upon request by emailing CHSCommunications@nychhc.org.

“The Creative Arts Therapy Program at Rikers helps fulfill the deeply human need for safe spaces,” said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray. “The women and men of Rikers have used these spaces to process their emotions, heal, and grow. This collaboration, between ThriveNYC and Health + Hospitals/ Correctional Health Services helps those who are incarcerated by supporting mental health and promoting self-expression.”

“Correctional Health Services’ Creative Arts Therapy program provides a safe space for participants in groups, as well as individuals, to express their frustrations, manage and understand their anger, develop methods of self-care and share life experiences,” said Dr. Mitch Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “The participants may become aware of their personal creativity and strengths, providing them with increased self-esteem and insight and often enabling them to plan for their futures while gaining understanding of their pasts.”

“Our Creative Arts Therapy Program is a great example of how self-expression through art can help people cope with the jail environment. We are proud to run the country’s oldest and largest jail-based creative arts therapy program as a way to support our patients’ mental health. We look forward to sharing the work of our patients with the public at our fourth annual art exhibit,” said Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President for NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services.

Creative arts therapy, a therapeutic intervention that has proved effective in correctional settings, uses art, music, movement, poetry or drama with the goal of supporting patients’ mental health and coping skills through the encouragement of self-expression. The sessions in the Creative Arts Therapy Program are facilitated by a team of 12 licensed creative art therapists who combine psychology and the creative process to promote emotional growth and healing. The Creative Arts Therapy program on Rikers Island provides group sessions three times a week for any interested patient receiving mental health services. The program’s creative arts therapists are part of Correctional Health Services’ clinical mental health team and coordinate with other staff on mental health care and treatment planning in all of the jails on Rikers Island.

“Creative art therapy is a valuable component of mental health treatment,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services is a national leader in providing a comprehensive and diverse set of mental health services in correctional settings, and this partnership with the School of Visual Arts will broaden awareness of this important program.”

“I am grateful for NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services expansion of the creative arts therapy program. It has been proven effective in supporting the needs of patients receiving mental health services on Rikers Island,” said Assemblymember David I. Weprin. “As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction, I thank First Lady Chirlane McCray for her commitment to improving mental health services in New York City and I also thank Dr. Mitch Katz, President & CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals and Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President for NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services for their continuing efforts to make the criminal justice system more equitable.”

“Creative art therapy offers incarcerated individuals an outlet for expression and connection to the outside world. As we focus on the closure of Rikers Island, programs that aid in re-entry and focus on behavioral health are critically important. I congratulate NYC Health + Hospitals on investing in this initiative,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Criminal Justice Committee Chair.