Bringing Hope and Resilience to New York’s LGBTQ Community


Among The Art Therapy Project’s newest program partners is Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a provider of health care and related services targeted to New York City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Callen-Lorde’s behavioral health department is comprised of one clinic for short-term therapy and psychiatry and another clinic for more complex and long-term behavioral health needs. Clinicians from both clinics are referring clients to the Art Therapy Project.

“In the LGBTQ community, there is a lot of trauma; trans patients are faced with a myriad of adversities throughout their developmental years that continue in adulthood” said Dr. Morris Roy, Clinical Manager, Behavioral Health.

The partnership has been three years in the making. It began when Callen-Lorde Chief Mental Health Officer David Guggenheim, PsyD, visited The Art Therapy Project’s booth at the Affordable Art Fair. When Executive Director Martha Dorn contacted him to let him know he’d won a drawing for tickets to the fall gala, she proposed a collaboration, and soon thereafter their clinical teams were in discussion about working together.

“There was a huge response from therapists whose patients were interested in participating,” said Clinical Manager Roy. From approximately 25 prospective clients, a group of 12 was formed, with the others placed on a waitlist.

In the past, Callen-Lorde offered art therapy in house, and the groups were well attended. “According to the patients and the therapists, there was a lot of progress made by the patients,” said Roy, citing the self-soothing aspect of treatment as especially valuable to the population he works with. “When the focus of the activity is on making art, people get more relaxed, and they can look at traumatic events from a safe distance.”

Meanwhile, the need has only grown. “There’s more and more trauma in the population that we serve,” Roy explained, “Whether it’s just being identified more, or more people are coming forward for help, I don’t know.”

Comprised of individuals with various gender identities, the group started meeting at SVA this month and will meet for 12 sessions. If the program is deemed a success, Roy said, he expects its work to be ongoing.