Meet Brandy King a 2017 graduate of our Certificate Training Program.
We are excited to feature her as our monthly Alumni Spotlight!
We think you will be inspired by the blend of skills and practices Brandy brings as an
expressive arts therapist, REAT mentor, and IEATA REAT co-chair.
Brandy King has a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Filial/Play Therapy certification from Stetson University. Brandy offers expressive arts therapy and REAT supervision at Expressionists Creative
Counseling. She is a REAT Co-Chair with IEATA and the mentor/supervisor for REAT track students at EAFI.
Brandy, what drew you to the field of Expressive Arts, or motivated you to get Expressive Arts training?
As an intern, I used to work at a crisis behavioral unit with people from the community with lower income. This often involved working with people of all ages after a suicide attempt. I was a trained play therapist and we
were lucky enough to have a dedicated playroom. I started to notice that the adults would longingly look at the playroom as we walked by - so I started inviting them inside. So much happened when we stopped relying only on words! Seeking out Expressive Arts training came from a place of wanting to offer more to these clients.
As you began to immerse yourself in this work, were there any unexpected gifts or surprises?
Well, yes. There actually aren’t enough words to describe the grief I was carrying for the family of origin I lost, the heaviness of taking on so much responsibility in my early 20’s. I remember feeling that Tamara could see into my heart during the EAFI intensives. It was so strong that I couldn’t make eye contact with her
sometimes. Then with Kathleen - oh my goodness - there was a lot of connection, especially around finding my voice. During one intensive, she noticed something so tiny about the way I said something and knew that it was important. She invited me to hold my image higher and repeat my words louder each time until I felt it thoroughly. Then the relationships with other students echoed out as I recognized my tribe. I was home.
Something Spiritual in These Here Woods
How are you currently implementing expressive arts in your personal and/or professional life?
Using Shaun McNiff’s dialogue method, I remember my image telling me it needed me to spend more quiet time in nature. When the illusions in my life were shattered, I had the comfort of that message. I made my way to the Blue Ridge Mountains and immersed myself in personal EXA practice and nature every day. It is a part of my soul now.
I’m excited about the “King’s Meaningful Song Process” which is the first original EXA process that I’ve written from my own personal and professional life’s journey and have shared with clients and mentoring students since Spring this
What are your goals in this work, or how do you envision your involvement with EXA unfolding in the future?
As a new REAT Co-Chair, my first idea was to streamline the REAT application process with video instructions - since I struggle with dyslexia, I figured some other applicants may as well. I’d also like to offer an EXA
ethics forum and possibly speak about IEATA at other mental health conferences. We'll see, that last part scares me.
In my private practice, I’d like to find a REACE/REAT partner
interested in co-facilitating retreats in the Asheville area. I offer deep presence, but I’m learning that I need help with groups of more than six to eight people. I now know that I don’t have to do this work alone.
Road to October
2022 - 2023
How has Expressive Arts enriched or expanded your career
In EAFI mentoring/practicum supervision and private REAT supervision, it’s fascinating to witness how each student is so unique in how they approach the work and yet I notice a pattern in the rhythm that occurs. When my time with each student or client ends, I gather up all of the images, writings, and songs that they’ve shared
with me. Then I respond on my own in the dance of how our hearts attuned. “How To Be An Elder: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés prepared me for this. I honor how my heart has changed during our time together.
Additionally, this first year as a REAT Co-Chair is a learning process. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people who generously donate their time on the IEATA board, but I’m especially grateful for the relationship with my fellow Co-Chairs, Betsy & Kara.
What is your current personal practice and how does it enrich your life?
Every morning I consider a student, client, or personal struggle and dedicate my morning hike up the mountain to this person or idea. This becomes a walking meditation as I carry the weight of thoughts with me. Sometimes I’ll create a playlist of songs that remind me of their energy or of mine. When I reach the summit, I breathe out and let it all go.
As I walk back down, I allow any creative ways to approach the situation to arrive or just enjoy the silence of my mind. If I feel moved to create an image and add words to my journal, (using prompts learned from Kay Adams), I will
do this when I get back. Most days I dance out the energy of others from sessions, take photos and paint from my walks, and write out my feelings. My personal practice is the safe container that holds me.
Cackling Laugh: Welcoming my Emerging Crone
What do you wish you could tell the world about Expressive Arts?
Ethics in this realm are paramount. The expressive arts often plummets participants to deep places faster than they were expecting. This vulnerability and trust should never be betrayed. We don’t use the images, movements, sounds, words, or the experiences of another’s healing journey to promote ourselves. Dr. Bridget Noonan from Stetson University taught me that.
It’s also true that the expressive arts belong to all of us. In times when I had nothing but love and a few paints or crayons to share with my kids; we made images, wrote poetry, had random dance parties, and sang songs
about what we loved about one another. It was marvelous. It was all ours.
What are you currently offering, and what are the ways that people can work with
My greatest joy comes from working with individuals in expressive arts therapy, REAT supervision, or LMHC supervision. One-on-one sessions allow for in-depth sharing and focused presence. There’s nothing more beautiful in this world than paying close attention to another soul as it
In the Midst of Winter
Anything else you would like to
None of us gets here alone. It’s important to remember the ones who taught us and whose methods we use. Say the names of the people out loud and in writing. Dr. Scott Freeman, Reina Lombardi, Dr. Paige Thanasiu, and Dr. Leila Roach were important mentors and teachers to me not mentioned above. I feel them behind me whenever I
see any client.
Watch for our Alumni Spotlight on the 1st of each month. We feature graduates of our Certificate Training Program - Expressive Arts Facilitators, Therapists, and Educators. We hope this series will inspire you,
help spread the work of our alumni, and demonstrate the scope of practice of the expressive arts field.
For more information about our Certificate
Training Program, Professional Development, and Workshops - both online and in-person, visit us at www.expressiveartsflorida.com
Tamara Teeter Knapp
MA, NCC, MHC Intern, REACE®
MA, LMHC(S), REACE®, REAT®