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Art Therapy Techniques and Processing Sessions

Art-to-Heart is a program through Dream Identity Counseling that provides creative release for teens and their families to cope with daily stressors, release suppressed feelings and build family cohesion  in an effective and artistic way while prioritizing their mental health.  Through the Art-to-Heart program, we utilize creative arts for people to enjoy dedicated time for creative self-care and intention to be in the present moment as they connect with their inner selves and with others through art expression.

The beauty of Art is the ability to create and perceive from your own experiences and creativity.  Art therapy techniques provides the opportunity to process experiences or feelings through a creative eye and give space where words may be too difficult to express.  No pressure about having perfect art skills.  Let your heart speak through colors, brush strokes and shapes to create your story.

Danesha's Story

When creating Art-to-Heart, my main goal was to help people use creative release to explore their feelings and experiences where words were not able to express.  In 2019, I was the Lead Mental Health Therapist of teenage boys in an inpatient behavioral residential facility.  As the boys struggled to connect with their authentic emotions, they showed behavior that related to anger build up.  In desperate efforts to connect with their underlying feelings of anger, I utilized creative ways to create self awareness and group cohesion. I turned back to my own childhood experiences as a teen diagnosed with depression.  My therapist at the time was patient with me and used creative art to help me openly express my feelings and experiences to cope effectively.  Those memories inspired me to do further research of the psychology of art and mental wellness. This led to me completing a certification in Expressive Therapies: Creative Interventions for Emotional Regulation and Self-Awareness.

The result of utilizing creative coping with the boys was that we made history within the behavioral facility.  They were the first group to have the least amount of fights or self-harm in a monitored time frame. Their progress was due to more interpersonal awareness of how to recognize their range of emotions through creative processing and become more mindful of their emotional triggers and warning signs.  As the boys gained emotional intelligence, they built self-awareness skills to pause and prevent impulsive reactions of aggression, which in turn helped to build group cohesion and effective communication with self-talk and others.

Entering private practice in 2020,  I noticed the same systematic problem that people were struggling to cope and find hope through environmental crises including Covid-19 and outbreak events of racial injustices. As a Certified Family Trauma Professional, I knew the importance of individual and collective coping for cohesion during a crisis .  To assist youth and their families with coping strategies, I created the online Art-to-Heart segments to help families use artistic and creative release.  The live virtual segments of Art-to-Heart provided a virtual community and connection through creative and artistic tools to release their stressors, validate one another's experiences and encourage resilience. After lock-down was released, Art-to-Heart became an in-person art therapy-technique group and currently serves the Southwest Florida area.

Why art for self care?

Through completing a training in Expressive Therapies Creative Interventions for Emotional Regulation and Self-Awareness, I learned that the same part of the brain that holds trauma is the same part that allows us to be creative.  Since trauma is the response to a harmful event, while we can not re-create our experiences, we can re-create the ways we process and continue to respond to that event. 

Art-to-Heart Coping strategies:

  • Mindful and elevated self-care 

  • Each art experience features the psychology of color, imagery and mindfulness that promotes wellness and balance. 

  • Uses sensory involvement to reduce anxiety by promoting a sense of calm through grounding techniques

  • Tools to cope with depression, stress and grief

  • Build emotional intelligence and awareness

  • Re-create brain-ways of trauma processing

  • Connect and communicate emotional intelligence with others

Why are we here?

Art-to Heart provides a safe space for communities to connect and heal creatively through affordable care.  The impact of relatability, shared experiences and expressive arts allows each individual to feel seen and empowered to create their Dream Identity. 

Minorities, especially, face many micro- aggressions, discriminations, and barriers within society, and many of those needs have been ignored by mainstream society.  Due to the ignorance and lack of awareness surrounding some of these challenges, minorities suffer from lack of resources as well as lack of access to adequate health care, more specifically, mental health care.  Relating to Minority Mental Health, there are challenges such as insurance gaps covering mental health services, lack of relatable providers of healthcare in urban areas,  which also includes lack of multicultural competence of minority mental health.   This has left minorities to feel helpless and voiceless in advocating for their mental health needs.  The cycle continues to lead to helpless behavior, which heightens the stigma of reaching out for support as finding resources can become a stressor in itself.

 The Goal

Art-to-Heart created a scholarship to help break the stigma by providing access to care and creating tools for people to prioritize their mental health through creative release instead of the cliche talk therapy.  The purpose of the Art-to-Heart scholarship is to provide funding for teens between the ages of 13-17 who meet criteria for creative programming. The scholarship funds currently assist families who are needing financial support for Mental Health services in the state of Florida for one or two children within the age group.  As the program served the Lee county area for Hurricane Ian Relief, the need for more funding to open the age gap for younger children and more family groups became a warranted need to assist the community in collective healing. Our goal is to raise 5,500 more in funds that will specifically allow more in person services to families in the SWFL area and provide access to care virtually to reach a larger population through an Art-to-Heart e-course.   

Why Become a Sponsor?

Although there has been an increase in Black women-owned businesses, Black-owned firms struggle with lack of access to funding due to statistically, black-owned firms being twice as likely to be rejected for business loans in the U.S.  We need support in reaching a larger population than just the Lee County area of Florida and expanding the program into a digital platform to serve more youth and families that can benefit from creative coping. 

Art to Heart: Services
Art to Heart: Video


Youth Scholarship Program

Art-to-Heart Scholarship is an Art Therapy Technique and Release group led by Mental Health Therapist, Danesha Simmons, MS, NCC, CFTP under the sponsorship of Providence Family Life Center. The scholarship is is designed to provide funding for youth ages 13-17 with emotional, intellectual, and social development through creative art processing. The focus goals of the Art-to Heart scholarship is to help teens build self esteem, learn effective coping strategies, navigate emotions properly, support and normalize teen stressors, and practice interpersonal and communication skills. Help our youth cultivate their futures and create their Dream Identity through creative and expressive arts.

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If you are a parent/legal guardian of a minor that can benefit from this program, click apply to see if your child meets requirements.  We will respond soon.

The Art-to-Heart Scholarship Program also travels in the Lee county area  to service community partners and events with youth groups. Please contact if your establishment or event would like for Dream Identity to host an Art Therapy Technique and Release workshop with your youth.

Art to Heart: Services


Sometimes, getting a group of people to express themselves through words can be difficult due to communication being so unique and complex.  Creativity allows connection of expression, release and relatability that may help with building rapport and unity amongst our layered group dynamics.  Art-to-Heart will travel to you to help your group create cohesion and wellness.

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Art-to Heart travels within a certain mile radius in the SWFL area for no travel fee.  Outside of this area, a traveling fee will be requested for service. Please contact for service fees. Populations that we serve:

  • Children groups (ages 6-12)

  • Teen groups (ages 13-17)

  • Adult groups

  • Senior Citizen groups

  • Military/Veteran groups

  • Business groups

  • Mental Health groups

  • Youth Sports groups

  • Pro/Semi Pro sport groups

  • Team Building groups

  • Church groups

Art to Heart: Services


Need help to achieve your goals in life? I use an array of communication skills to provide coaching services that give you the tools for success. In addition to 1-on-1 consultations and group sessions, I regularly host workshops and seminars for people who are interested in developing their own coaching techniques.


Art-to-Heart Spring Break Event

Date: March 18, 2023

Address: 630 Maitland Ave.

Altamonte Springs Fl, 32701

Time: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

For youth and families to explore creative coping, family cohesion and youth empowerment tools to return back to school.

Heart Hustle Health & Wellness Fest

Date: February 23, 2023

Address: 3265 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BLVD

Fort Myers, Fl 33916

Time: 7:00 am - 1:00 pm

For community members to join marathon walk and health vendors in honor of World Heart Awareness. Explore heart wellness with creative release.

Past Event

Holiday Heart & Resource Village presents Hurricane Ian Relief

Date: October 15th, 2022


Date: February 23, 2023

Address: 3265 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BLVD

Fort Myers, Fl 33916

Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

See Community Providers for Hurricane Ian resources. Join community connection and healing through creative coping of environmental crisis and grief.

Past Event
Art to Heart: Services
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