Art therapy may sound abstract but Heather Hutchinson says it can be a useful tool when traditional talk therapy doesn’t quite fit in the lines.
"If you're dealing with some deeper issues, especially kids who aren't as able to verbalize what's going on for themselves internally or people who are dealing with long term PTSD," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson and other advocates in the field are pushing to increase access after art therapists were excluded from a slate of bills that expanded mental health services in New York state.
"So many people are only able to access art therapy through hospitals, and then when they're released from a hospital setting, then they don't have access anymore because Medicaid won't cover our license," said Hutchinson.
Opponents argued that including art therapy in the legislation would only rack up costs for the state under the Affordable Care Act and that several large insurance companies already provide coverage. But Hutchinson says limiting its reach isn’t the answer.
"Therapists are psychotherapists, just like mental health workers, licensed mental health workers and social workers," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson works with patients of all ages from children with developmental disabilities to older adults with physical disabilities and dementia.
After 20 years in the profession, Hutchinson says the most rewarding part is watching her clients arrive to that "aha" moment.
"Magic, quite honestly. It's magic," said Hutchinson.