Kalispell art therapist, Allyson Norwood Bush, is a life-long artist who found art making especially helpful during childhood and adolescence. She attended New York University, training directly with art therapy pioneer, Edith Kramer. It was during graduate school that Allyson worked on the inpatient psychiatric unit at Woodhull Hospital in Bedford- Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and at a therapeutic high school in Brooklyn Heights. Upon graduation, she worked with autistic children for two years with the Association in Manhattan for Autistic Children.
Allyson later worked with homeless, mentally ill men and women on the Bowery. Allyson advocated for increasing art therapy opportunities by speaking at various conferences presented by hospitals and homeless administrations. During this time, she became a founding board member of Open Space, an “outsider artist” venue and studio space for mentally ill adults, empowering people through opportunity for recognition and financial self sufficiency.
In 1997, Allyson became a Registered Art Therapist with the American Art Therapy Association. At that time she also began supervising NYU graduate art therapy interns.
From 2001-2007, Allyson took time from art therapy and activism to rear her four children in suburban New Jersey while also using this time to create, exhibit and sell her own art work.
Since moving to Kalispell in 2007, Allyson has worked as a child and family therapist for Altacare CSCT in Evergreen, and created a private art therapy practice, Flathead Valley Art Therapy, LLC. As an art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor, Allyson incorporates person-centered, cognitive-behavioral, trauma-informed, neurosequential, family systems, psychoanalytic and mindfulness approaches into her practice.
Allyson is a founding member, state delegate and past president of the Montana Art Therapy Association and teaches courses on art therapy in clinical practice, offering CEUs for therapists in the valley. She has taught art therapy courses at Flathead Valley Community College the University of Montana in Missoula.
From 2014-2016 Allyson partnered with Kalispell Regional Healthcare to provide weekly art therapy groups for adults living with cancer. Art therapy was reintroduced in the fall of 2017 for children and families living with cancer, through the Cancer Support Community.