Prosperity and peace

Cassandra Gray

By Tammy Shaw

Finding mental health care can be daunting at times, but a Shelbyville counselor and her team are ready to help.

Cassandra Gray is CEO of Creative Spirits Behavioral Health, and her organization provides outpatient, group, couple, child, and family therapy.

Creative Spirits has programs that tackle barriers that affect alcohol and drug recovery progress, community services, court services, and business and industry services.

Coping

The organization helps individuals and families cope through extraordinary circumstances, and Gray wants to create prosperity and peace for clients, help them through tough times. The tagline is “Transforming lives into creative spirits.”

The business’s housing initiative finds homes and guides people to shelters. Creative Spirits also keeps an apartment in back of their Louisville office for emergencies. “We find places to stay,” Gray said, but that’s only part of what Creative Spirits offers.

Mental health

The organization provides mental health services on an outpatient basis. “We break down barrier for families,” she said. “Our focus is on mental health, trauma, and people working through depression and anxiety. We are a diverse organization, culturally competent.”

Creative Spirits offers substance and domestic abuse counseling.

Barriers

People who are on probation and parole need help, so they don’t fall back on old habits. Barriers are housing and employment. They may also need drug and alcohol counseling “We help coordinate with the case manager,” she said. Recovery services provide peer support, connecting with someone who has walked the same path. “Our peers walk with them, understand about recovery and are a mentor,” she said.

Creative Spirits has three locations: Shelbyville, Middletown, and the West End of Louisville. The main office is in Shelbyville on Stonecrest Court.

Schools

Creative Spirits partners with 11 Kentucky and online colleges and sets up internships for youth. Students sign a wait list for internships at Asbury University, Campbellsville University, Capella University, Indiana University Southeast, Kentucky State University for social work, Liberty University, Lindsey Wilson College, Northern Kentucky University, Spalding University, University of Kentucky, or University of Louisville. The organization has four interns currently.

Helping business owners

On the business side, the group offers mental health coaching for “up and coming businesses” from startup and launch to steady state.

Creative Spirits is working with AMPED Russell Technology Business Incubator. According to Gray, new business owners need fortitude and to be mentally prepared for challenges commonly faced in a startup or a growth spurt.

AMPED provides grant money to help business founders to launch and move forward with staging. Amped “provides a free music program for kids, a free technology training program for adults, and is Louisville's first and only Black business incubator,” according to its Facebook page.

Creative Spirits works with career coaches to unstick business owners and move forward from just surviving to thriving.

Second chance

Not only do folks on parole, in recovery, or homeless get a second chance; mentors who guide them get a second chance. “We’re a second chance employer. If they’ve been clean a year, gone through a 12-step program, and have been sponsors and helped lead a recovery meeting, we get them jobs in that area.”

Clients

The business employs licensed professionals, including Gray. “We provide a holistic approach to care,” she said.

Gray gets referrals from word of mouth, church members, partners, and placement in magazines like “Psychology Today.”

Creative Spirits also accepts Medicaid and private insurance, including Humana and Anthem, and clients are referred by insurance companies.

The organization works on crisis solutions, assessment, Employee Assistance Programs, addiction treatment, case management, school-based counseling and prevention programs, and more.

Counselors

Gray has offered counseling sine 1997 and started with court work as a substance abuse agent. “I provided services if someone had a DUI or drug abuse charge,” she said. “I moved into domestic violence court order work and probation. I added the mental health component in 2017. I still accept cases from court. If they want to participate, they can contact our office.”

When her business launched in 2017, Shelbyville was the first stop. Gray is the CEO and clinic director. The business is poised to launch its own podcast soon. “We want to tell folks about what we’re doing.”

Another way to get the word out was a recent fundraiser.

Wakanda Forever

Creative Spirits sponsored “Wakanda Forever,” a screening of the “Black Panther” sequel to bring the community together on Sunday, Nov. 13. Part of the proceeds went to Creative Spirits for its housing initiative, the rest to the Shelbyville NAACP youth initiative and scholarship fund.

Theater-goers dressed up as Wakandans, listened to a talk from the local NAACP, heard a DJ, had a 360-degree photo booth, and more. “We wanted the community to come together to share in this great event, Gray said. “We hope this continues to promote prosperity and peace. Everyone is so hustle-bustle, we wanted to take a moment from COVID, work to come together. It was a way to promote African Americans within the community to bring us together.”

Gray said she wanted to offer a mental health moment for families, a time to laugh and talk at a fun event.

The event raised $1,820, and the Shelbyville NAACP accepted $1,000 for youth scholarships. Creative Spirits used the rest for its housing initiative.

Partnership

Creative Spirits partnered with Shelbyville Cinema 8 and its new owner and manager to bring “Wakanda Forever” to Shelbyville. “They helped bring in this movie,” she said. “We partnered with them. They were awesome to work with and were onboard with the event.”

This is especially important to Gray, as she was one of the people who videoed cars being towed from the otherwise empty cinema parking lot by former management. These cars had always parked in the lot when the Cattleman’s Roadhouse parking filled up.

“We had an incident. It’s over, and I want the community to know the theater is back up with new management and ownership,” Gray said.

Constable Rocky Pinciotti is the new general manager. “He is excellent to work with,” she said.

Gray is all about second chances.