WMAI Mission Statement

The Workhouse Military in the Arts Initiative (WMAI) is rooted in the Workhouse Arts Center’s desire to address the needs and to improve the lives of military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers through the arts. WMAI seeks to increase equity, access, and opportunities for veterans to participate in quality arts programming that is sensitive and responsive to their unique experiences. To participate in any of WMAI’s Programs, you must be a direct family member of an individual who has served in any US military branch and reserves or a veteran (active duty, retired) yourself.

WMAI is listed on the National Directory of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (by AFTA) and has partnered with a variety of organizations, including Recovery Forge, to provide programming and services to the military and first responder communities. Participants engage in whole human wellness for transformative experiences in art psychotherapy, therapeutic art making, performance art, culinary arts, and health and wellness as a multidisciplinary experience designed to support healing. Departments at the Workhouse involved include Visual Arts Education, Performing Arts, Culinary Program, Exhibitions, and Art of Movement.

The WMAI program developed from a desire to provide access to greater art therapeutic services and free classes in arts, for the benefit of current and former military members and their families. The programs materials, facilities and services, together with the time from our program artists, are subsidized through fundraising, donations, sponsors and grants. Through this effort and your continued support, we can provide free regular monthly art activities, developed to provide an exploratory experience in a range of visual arts. Our consummate goal is to help better the lives of those men, women and families who have given so much.

We’d like to give a special thanks to the Potomac Health Foundation for awarding us the Howard L. Greenhouse Large Grant Award for 2018-2019 in support of our programmatic and artistic initiatives.

Follow our Facebook page to receive the latest WMAI news and updates.

The Workhouse Military in the Arts Initiative is funded and supported by:


WMAI Community Mental Health/Arts Center Model

Here at WMAI, we are in the developmental stages of implementing a creative, holistic approach to providing community assistance to our Nation’s armed forces service members, family members and caregivers. Our unique method features art psycotherapy, therapeutic arts practices as well as arts courses to enhance the quality of life and to promote rehabilitation, coping skills, resiliency, growth and support systems for overall military family health, wellness and functioning. Through our holistic model, we offer additional resources that go beyond the traditional psychotherapy model of treatment; it is our hope to develop an innovative, community-based mental health/arts center model through the visual, performing, literary, culinary and movement arts practices that seek to reunify the mind, body and spirit which can become fragmented and distressed due to the more ongoing, challenging aspects of military life. Our method focuses on Mental Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Spiritual Balance.

MENTAL HEALTH Quite simply, art saves lives. And, in efforts to improve the mental health of our military community, veterans and family members can gain increased self-awareness, insight and build community through a variety of arts-based programs and services such as individual and group art psychotherapy, Recovery Forge, Veteran’s Open Studio sessions in Warrior Way Art Studio and visual arts courses such as monthly Make-and-Take workshops, the Sunday night ceramics six-week course (Fall and Winter) and biweekly Yoga for Creativity sessions.

NUTRITION We improve nutritional health through various culinary workshops and programming that focus on healthy eating and foods that work to reduce the stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety. We also focus on developing a family ritual of meal preparation to encourage family time and togetherness especially for those experiencing multiple deployments.

FITNESS In terms of fitness, we offer programs and services through our Art of Movement curriculum. Here, veterans and family members can take part in rowing, yoga, tai chi, aromatherapy and a multitude of other physical fitness-oriented activities to improve health, resiliency, reduce stress and other negative symptoms.

SPIRITUAL BALANCE Spiritual balance, as we define it, can be a sense of connectedness outside of the self, explored through Yoga therapy, meditation as well as attendance in art psychotherapy, therapeutic arts and arts course programming. In these activities, veterans and families develop additional military community networks for support and camaraderie, thus reducing isolation and hesitance to connect due to length of PCS; knowing they are not alone fosters deepened personal connections and stronger communal bonds.


WMAI Programs

At the heart of The Workhouse Military in the Arts Initiative’s mission is the desire to help improve the quality of life for military service members and their families. WMAI programming has been made possible through donations, fundraising, sponsorships and grants. Your support enables the WMAI to continue providing this Open Studio program, art psychotherapy and other arts experiences to military service members, their families and caregivers in our community. Please consider visiting the “Support” page to donate a monetary amount of your choosing to the Workhouse Military in the Arts Initiative (WMAI) so that we can continue to offer these experiences year-round. Every little bit helps fund the program for veterans and military families. Join us this year of celebration and participation of all this amazing FREE programming!

  • Individual & Group Art Therapy in a supportive, non-clinical environment
  • Open Studio Saturdays for military artists, family members and caregivers
  • Military Family “Make & Take” Arts Workshops
  • Subsidies to attend other regularly programmed Workhouse arts courses
  • Recovery Forge Open Studio every weekend (Saturday & Sunday, Spring through Fall)
  • Sunday evening Ceramic class for military veterans (Fall and Spring)
  • Artistic Innovation Saturday Workshops



“Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. It can also advance societal and ecological change. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being.

-American Art Therapy Association (AATA), arttherapy.org

We are excited to provide for the first time in our art center’s history, clinical individual and group art psychotherapy services for our military veterans, family members and caregivers through our Art Therapy Program. We are also excited to introduce our Art Therapist, Yonsenia White, MS, ATR. She is supporting our Military in the Arts Initiative by providing art therapy, operating the weekly Open Studio and conducting other therapeutic art workshops for our military community with area mental health professionals, military base personnel and Workhouse staff. Yonsenia White, MS, ATR is a Registered Art Therapist and Resident in Counseling (LPC) with seven years of clinical experience in crisis stabilization. She has been both an award-winning internationally and nationally exhibited professional artist and tenured studio art professor for over 20 years. Yonsenia holds an MFA from the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University and a MS in Art Therapy and Counseling from Eastern Virginia Medical School. She is personally familiar with military culture and thoroughly enjoys working with veterans and their families because of her own military upbringing. She has worked with adults, adolescents and children including LGBTQ, transgendered persons and geriatric populations with a variety of mental health disorders in domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, residential and psychiatric facilities, community-based agencies, school settings, juvenile detention centers, VA hospitals and her art psychotherapy private practice. Yonsenia’s clinical multimodal approach combines trauma-focused art therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), solution-focused and client-centered therapy. She addresses the psychological needs of emotionally stabilized, higher functioning clients dealing with concerns such as sexual assault (Military Sexual Trauma), depression and anxiety, stress management, coping skills, care giver fatigue and military culture issues.

The Art Therapy Program provides:

  • FREE individual art therapy and group art therapy sessions (6-8 people)
  • Veterans (active duty, retired, reservists), their families and care givers (age 10+)
  • Creative, non-threatening, therapeutic environment by a licensed art therapist (private practice model)

Eligible Clients are:

  • Seeking adjunctive art therapy environment
  • Already engaged in ongoing outpatient psychotherapy
  • Emotionally stabilized, higher functioning (not in crisis); Service dogs welcome
  • Open to using artistic materials & processes to improve and restore mental health functioning (no previous art experience necessary)

If you have questions or would like to receive more information about individual or group art therapy, please contact her at YonseniaWhite@workshousearts.org or call her confidential voicemail at 703-584-2929.



The WMAI Open Studio is intended to foster creativity and encourage experimentation in an atmosphere of cultural exchange, conversation, encouragement, and freedom of expression. The Open Studio is monitored and run by our art therapist and professional artist, Yonsenia White. Designed to bring military families, veterans, retirees, active duty and reservists together, the WMAI Open Studio allows the current or former service member a chance to express themselves artistically, and work alongside fellow service members in a safe and creativity-fueled environment. Open Studio is FREE and occurs every Saturday from 12-3PM in the newly named Warrior Way Art Studio in Building W-16. The second Saturday in each month is Family Day, where veterans are encouraged to bring family members. Open Studio is an opportunity for veterans to explore their creative side through structured and open-ended art experiences such as painting, sculpture, drawing, mixed media/collage and other processes and materials. No previous art experience is necessary. The art instructor provides direction, guidance and encouragement at a pace most comfortable for veterans new to visual art as well as seasoned artists.



The Workhouse Arts Center has partnered with Recovery Forge for Metal Forging! If you are a military veteran, active duty or retired, every weekend you can join Adam Porras of Recovery Forge for free open studio time in forging. Recovery Forge’s main mission is to teach blacksmithing and bladesmithing to Wounded Warriors, active military, veterans, and First Responders. Due to the nature of this activity it is mainly held outdoors and thus subject to cancellation when weather is poor or too cold. Recovery Forge is FREE and open every weekend (weather permitting) from 12pm- 5pm Saturdays and 12pm-4pm on Sundays in Building 9A (located on north side of the center between buildings 9 and 10). Check out Recovery Forge and “like” their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/recoveryforge for more info and closings.



Our programming has been made possible through donations, fundraising, sponsorships and grants. A special thank you to the Potomac Health Foundation for awarding us the Howard L. Greenhouse Large Grant Award for 2018-2019 which has allowed us to program these experiences below! All the experiences listed here are specific to our Nation’s Armed Forces and their families. To participate you must be a direct family member of an individual who has served in any US Military branch or an Active Duty, Veteran, or Retired Veteran yourself. Though the experiences below are free, we do require each student register at least 72 hours in advance. This program requires data collection that is necessary to continue to receive grant funding. We must gather data related to every participants age, gender, ethnicity, residence location, branch of service, frequency of visits to the program and more. The more of this data we receive, the better we are at securing future, additional funding to keep the program operational at all times. We would like to ask that you please help us by allowing us to occasionally email you a survey related to your experience within the program courses, workshops and events. The surveys will vary. Some will ask questions related to personal demographics and some will ask questions related to the healing, therapeutic nature of art. We understand that replying to these surveys is a voluntary act and hope you will consider helping us to grow and sustain this partnership and future military programming. You are the key to assisting us provide this service to our military community. Thank You! Please considering “liking” our Facebook page here to get all the latest news about this program: https://www.facebook.com/workhouseMAI


Military Subsidies (Tuition Assistance for Service Members & their Families!)

Those who serve in the armed forces face unique challenges, such as frequent moves, unusual work schedules, stress, trouble sleeping, and more. These challenges make it increasingly difficult to participate in social activities that can benefit a student’s mental, behavioral and social health. The WMAI understands these challenges and is honored to back our military through tuition assistance in support of a service member’s personal goals in the therapeutic and healing qualities of the arts. This tuition assistance is open to all those who do or have served in any of the military service branches including the National Guard and reservists. It is now also open to Military Spouse and direct children of Military parents. Students are permitted one subsidy, per student, per quarter and must apply by providing a one-page, cover letter that demonstrates financial need and explains how taking the course will benefit them either behaviorally, socially, mentally or physically. Post course, the student will be asked to fill out a survey about their experience. The WMAI subsidy will cover 100% of the student’s tuition and any programmatic materials associated with the course. Personal materials and outside-class purchased materials will not be covered.

To learn more, inquire at registrar@workhousearts.org. Or click hereto download the Form field_Cover Letter Application for WMAI Subsidy Request



Please visit our online calendar to discover the latest WMAI events.



WARRIOR WAY GALLERY Warrior Way Gallery is located is in Building W16 in the hallway outside of Warrior Way Art Studio and next to the Muse and Vulcan Galleries. Warrior Way Gallery routinely features artwork by artist veterans working in various art media.

BUILDING W9A Building W9A is a new exhibition space for WMAI that shares a location with the Recovery Forge Studio. It features the work of artist-veterans and will feature live performance events, lectures and related programming for WMAI. It will also permanently house the “Military Family Community Mural” Project created during our Veteran’s Day Open House.



“Forging ahead: Bladesmithing gives troops, vets and caregivers a chance to bond, heal” (August 18, 2018) Recovery Forge-Forge Forward, Never Look Back (Fairfax Channel 16)



We are always looking for volunteers who’d like to share their time, talents and energy by assisting our various programs, workshops and events! If interested, complete this form (LINK HERE) and please contact the following staff for more details:

Debra Balestreri, DebraBalestreri@workhousearts.org Yonsenia White, YonseniaWhite@workhousearts.org Alex Kortenhoeven, (Workhouse Volunteer Coordinator), AlexKorenhoeven@workhousearts.org



Support WMAI via Donations https://workhousearts.networkforgood.com/projects/57711-support-the-workhouse-arts-foundation

WMAI Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/workhouseMAI

Recovery Forge Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/recoveryforge

Potomac Health Foundation https://potomachealthfoundation.org/

National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (AFTA) https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/the-national-initiative-for-arts-health-in-the-military

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This