People Helping People

Karen Nisenson, M.M., M.A., MT-BC

Founder/Clinical Director/- Music Therapist

Karen Nisenson

Karen Nisenson is Founder and Clinical Director of Arts for Healing. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Juilliard School, Bachelor of Science from Hunter College, a Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy from NYU, where she has been an adjunct professor and affiliated with the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy. Karen developed the integrated music and arts therapies methodology (IMAT) and the Adaptive Music Teaching Curriculum, which has been published by the Simply Music Company under the name of Simply Music Gateway. She has also created early childhood academic programs specifically designed for children on the Autism Spectrum. Karen is a contributor to Special Parent Magazine and The Motor Story Online News Magazine. Karen consults to schools in Fairfield County, CT, and frequently presents talks and workshops to parents and professionals about the impact and importance of the arts in education.

Matt Hennessy MA, MT-BC Music Therapist and Clinical Director of TheaterWorks – earned his BA in Music with a Concentration in Alto Saxophone in 2011 from Western Connecticut State University, then went on to earn his MA in Music Therapy from New York University in 2015. A Board-Certified Music Therapist, Matt is proficient in several instruments, including the saxophone, guitar, piano, and mandolin. He has been a great addition to the Arts for Healing Family and helped successfully launch our new TheaterWorks Program! One of the things Matt especially enjoys at AFH is the ability to work with and provide support for  children, teens, adults and seniors in a variety of settings.

Billy Ayres

Music Educator

Billy Ayres holds a Masters in Special Education and BS in psychology and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Aftra. He is a very talented musician, trained in percussion and a self-taught pianist and guitarist as well as a published song writer who has sung many national commercials for T.V and radio, performing with Ben Vereen and Michael Bolton. In addition to working with individuals and groups at AFH, Billy has created, directed and performed more than fifty original musicals with special needs children and adults, at the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts, The Greenwich Youth Stage, Northern Westchester Boces, Norwest, and for Ability Beyond Disability, a rehabilitation facility where his work with traumatic brain injury victims received high praise by the New York Times. He conducts workshops in a broad array of settings, from the theater, to the classroom, to community homeless shelters. His has received high acclaim in the Journal News for his work at the Westchester Arts Council, and has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Billy has a long list of accomplishments.

Carissa Streuli

Music Therapist

Carissa Streuli received her bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Montclair State University in 2013 and is Board Certified.  She is thrilled to join the Arts for Healing team, and to have the opportunity to spread the joy of music therapy to families in Connecticut.  Her work at AFH has primarily been working with children in PreK and in leading some of the TheaterWorks groups for young adults.  Carissa plays the guitar, sings, and plays flute. She is passionate about using the arts for self expression, and is grateful to have the opportunity to facilitate these experiences with the wonderful folks she works with at Arts for Healing.  Carissa enjoys yoga, dancing, and spending time with her family.

Molly Gorman

Music Therapist

Molly Gorman:  Molly has a Master of Arts in Music Therapy from New York University.  She had recieved her BA in Music from University of Miami.  Molly has worked with children and adults in schools, hospitals and social service agencies.  Molly plays piano and guitar and sings.  She has a background that includes theater work as well.  Arts For Healing is delighted to welcome Molly to our staff in September 2018.

Nancy Scorcia

Music Specialist

Nancy is a graduate of the Creative Arts Therapy program at The New School in New York City and also has a BFA in Arts Management from C. W. Post and an audio engineering certificate from Audio Recording Technology Institute. She is a trained vocalist, plays acoustic guitar and piano, and also composes her own music. After working in the record industry, Scorcia spent many years volunteering for community and school events, chairing several large galas and concerts while raising her five children. She began her relationship at Arts For Healing as an intern and continues to do both one-on-one and group outreach with preschool children, teens, adults and seniors. Nancy enjoys seeing live music, walking her dog and enjoying simple pleasures of nature.

Jennifer Ellyson

Dance/Movement Therapist

Jennifer Ellyson, M.A., R-DMT, received her Master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Her clinical work combines her strengths and passions from dance and movement, child development and psychology. Jennifer also received post-graduate certification in infant and child dance/movement psychotherapy in Dr. Suzi Tortora’s “Ways of Seeing” program. She has experience working with individuals and groups in various settings, including nursing homes, schools, social service agencies, and hospitals.  In addition to her work as therapist, Jennifer is an experienced dance and movement educator, teaching children and adults of all ages. She offers a holistic, mind-body approach to her engage her students and clients fully. To feed her creative soul, Jennifer dances and choreographs actively at home and in the dance studio.

Jessica Ortega 

Art Therapist

Jessica Ortega: Jessica is a local artist and Art Therapist from Stamford, CT who thoroughly enjoys being immersed in the creative process. Jessica received a Bachelors in Fine Arts with a focus on watercolor painting and received her Masters in Art Therapy and Creativity Development at Pratt Institute. Jessica is a passionate artist who is driven by nature-based artwork, mixed-media processes, as well as watercolor painting. Jessica’s multimedia influence and approach with her own artwork provides a foundation that impacts and forms her expansive creativity provided within her art therapy practice. Jessica believes art therapy is a healing and life-enhancing way of self-expression, self-discovery, and self-awareness through art-making and creative process. Jessica helps navigate, contain, and support clients by providing a safe space that allows the client to engage in their experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship in conjunction with a focus on their therapeutic goals.

Terrie Robinson Nesto

Expressive Arts Therapist

Terrie has her Masters degree in Art Therapy from Vermont College of Norwich University – 1995. She has worked with all ages, in varied settings and with a wide range of issues including inpatient psychiatric patients, hospice clients, children with emotional and/or developmental disabilities, medically fragile students, as well as with victims of domestic violence.  Terrie has worked both in the US and overseas for years in schools, camps, hospitals and community centers and she equally enjoys working with children, adults and seniors.

Carol Cristini

Administrative Coordinator

Carol is the face of AFH. She is the first person people talk to when they inquire about our services and the first face they see when they come for sessions. In between, she keeps AFH running by managing everyone’s schedules, finances and correspondence with clients and their families. We all appreciate what she does to keep everything running smoothly.

Susan Nisinzweig

Program Development Director

Susan Nisinzweig has an MSW, has run several home businesses and is the mother of a son who has benefitted from Arts For Healing for many years. In 2016 Susan began working part time at AFH to help with marketing, writing grants and developing new programs.  Susan helped get funding to launch and/or expand the TheaterWorks Program, ArtWorks Together Program (held in Norwalk Public Schools), the expansion of our Senior Memory Care Programs and A.C.T. – Adults Creating Together for young adults. Susan enjoys the fact that at AFH we can have an idea or respond to a request and then through commitment, passion and creativity, we can create a new program that benefits more clients.  That feels exciting!

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Dear Miss Karen, As you know, I auditioned for the play Honk, Jr. at my school. Guess what -- I got the lead role of Ugly! I think all of my work in music and theatre at Arts for Healing really helped me do a good job at the auditions. So thank you for helping me so much over the past 8 years. I'm really excited. Love, Brian "Music can always be there when you need it."

- Zeke, 8 year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome


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