CHOOSE 180 Art Therapy for Court-Impacted Young People


Grantee: CHOOSE 180
Timeframe: April 2022 – March 2023 | Amount: $30,000

CHOOSE 180 offers an “emergency room” approach to care: young people arrive at a crisis point, are offered services to move through the crisis, and are then triaged and connected with internal and external resources as needed. During follow-up care, CHOOSE 180 found that many externally referred participants for mental health treatment were not getting their needs met. To meet this need, they launched CHOOSE 180 Counseling in 2020, offering free mental health services to all CHOOSE 180 participants.

To meet the heightened need for counseling services while remaining committed to accessibility and cultural competency, CHOOSE 180 will launch an Expressive Art Therapy component of the Counseling program. The program will offer a non-traditional approach to healing in tandem with trauma-informed relational therapy that will guide clients into incorporating healthy coping mechanisms that will improve their morality, mobility, life expectancy, and connection to self. Activities will help participants tell their stories more fully through creativity, introducing a valuable tool in health promotion.

The Expressive Art Therapy program will be facilitated by a long-time CHOOSE 180 employee who has lived experience with the juvenile legal system and is trained in both traditional social work and mental health counseling and expressive art therapy techniques. She will have the support of Counselor I, who designed and launched the Counseling program at C0HOOSE 180 and currently facilitates trauma-informed relational therapy, as well as the Director of Operations, who will support with supervision, evaluation, and program development, and an external Clinical Supervisor who oversees our Counselors’ licensure hours.

Activities and services for the CHOOSE 180 Counseling program include:

  • 1-on-1 counseling sessions, lasting 4-8 months on average;
  • One-time crisis interventions sessions, by participant request and by court referral;
  • 7-week group peer counseling sessions aimed around strength-finding and skill building;
  • Counseling outreach at program sites, including Highline and City of Seattle school partners and Detention facility partners;
  • One-time facilitated sessions across CHOOSE 180 programs focused on resilience and creative trauma healing;
  • Pre- and post-program engagement surveys and twice annual facilitated community listening sessions to ensure participant feedback informs program modifications

In addition to CHOOSE 180’s court and school program partners, the Counseling program partners with Dream Investment Strategies to build data collection and program evaluation methodologies, as well as multiple community partners, including Community Passageways, Atlantic Street Center, and REST. CHOOSE 180 will collaborate with partners at the Highline School District and Prosecutors Offices to offer workshops that address trauma and resiliency, increasing youth’s emotional fluency and normalizing conversations around mental health and wellness. For the Expressive Art Therapy component of programming, CHOOSE 180 will also connect with local BIPOC artists and arts-based nonprofits and community organizations.


About Our Grantee


CHOOSE 180 launched in 2011 to address a gap identified by King County Prosecutors, who acknowledged that the criminal legal system was failing BIPOC youth. Over the past 11 years we have collaborated intentionally with Prosecutors offices to offer services to young people in lieu of traditional criminalization. This model, known commonly as Community-Based Diversion, was the first of its kind in Washington State to offer an alternative to punitive, inequitable sentencing and incarceration for youth.

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