Morica Hutchison, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, April 2021

Morica Hutchinson, MA, HDFS Graduate Student


Morica HutchisonMorica (Rica) Hutchison is a prevention scientist and marital family therapist. She studies the connections between emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness in community-based samples of youth and young adults deemed at-risk due to mental health and/or substance use diagnoses. Rica first discovered her passion for bolstering mental and behavioral health outcomes as an undergraduate when she completed an honors thesis on the emotional regulation and behavior of adolescents in substance use recovery and participated in an internship at an intensive outpatient program for adolescents focused on group and family-based therapy.

For her dissertation, Rica has been facilitating an eight-session mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for youth enrolled in community-based outpatient therapy programs. The youth present with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and a history of suicidal behavior or adverse experiences such as sexual abuse, neglect, multiple/disrupted family and/or foster placements, witness to parental substance use, or domestic violence. Her dissertation examines how MBI’s can support at-risk youth’s development of adaptive coping skills and thwart adverse mental and behavioral health outcomes.

During her time as a doctoral and master’s student, Rica has taught several in-person and online HDFS courses, including: Family Life Education, Research Methods, Honors Proseminar, and Honors Thesis Preparation Seminar.

Following graduation, Rica will become a postdoctoral scholar in suicide prevention at the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry. This further training will allow her to identify effective prevention strategies and program implementation for at-risk youth and young adults for use in applied settings, including mental health treatment facilities, non-profit organizations providing treatment to high-risk youth and young adults, and other agencies that offer training for child and family services workers. Dissemination of such preventative and intervention strategies will foster adaptive coping skills, reduce the burden of mental health adversities on youth and young adults, and increase access to care coordination for individuals and families presenting with ongoing difficulties.

In her spare time, Rica loves baking, travelling to new places, and adding to her collection of plants. She has three cats (Rae, Goose and Pickles), which keep her entertained while working from home.