Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Kim Brown Campbell, and I am a licensed clinical professional counselor and registered art therapist in Missoula, Montana. I maintain a private practice as an art therapist in a downtown studio in Missoula, and work with individuals of all ages, including work with families and group process art therapy. I’ve worked in the field of mental health care provision for 30 years, and as an art therapist for 24 years. Having lived in Missoula for the past fifteen years, I consider it home. I live with my husband of 23 years and two hilarious cats; incidentally, my husband, Duncan, is hilarious too.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
Humor is one of the most important things in life, and I try to infuse it throughout my day as I think this world can get quite heavy. Learning to work with others in various capacities has also taught me a great deal. I’ve been a mentee, a mentor, a leader, and a follower, so I place great importance in humility and the notion that making mistakes is truly the only way to learn. Education has also been a pillar of my career path, and I hope to never stop learning!
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
Funny, I just read this one after answering that making mistakes is important in one’s career, so I know you have guessed by now that I make them. There are so many that I don’t know which single one stands out the most, but once I turned down a job in Seattle only to reapply for the same exact position 3 months later. To clarify, someone had been hired for the job who was not a good fit, so she quit after 3 months. I took the job the second time (I can’t believe they re-offered it to me), and really ended up enjoying it and all the folks I worked with, so it was a win/win situation. I often wonder if I would have felt as lucky to have landed in it if I had taken it the first time. The job entailed working as a supervisor of a community mental health team with children and families, most of whom were experiencing mental health crises and needing the highest levels of care. It was extremely hard work, but super rewarding all around.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
I cannot believe how much my field has changed in the past 20 years. As a profession, art therapy essentially began in the 1950s, took hold in the 1970s, and really came of age with the new millennium. Therefore, it is morphing and changing all the time, and always seemingly for the better. I just see more opportunities to branch out with it, but in all honesty, I hope to retire in 10 years and work primarily on making my own art.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That you won’t make any money at this profession, which is true in the grand scheme of things, but it really isn’t about that at all. If you are someone who wants many material things in life, this is not the job for you. As with many professions of this type, you will struggle at first financially, but the rewards of working with others in this capacity are far more valuable in my experience.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Taking on more work. Period. I used to work myself to death, but have realized, finally, that I am more effective when I can place the necessary boundaries around exercising good self care and just plain saying “no.”
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
I don’t really have one, and I feel every time I read a new book I like that it is my new “favorite.” For right now I would have to say that I loved and recommend “The School of Life: An Emotional Education” by Alain de Botton.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Be yourself. Remember that life is short and if you really want to do something, do it now. Don’t wait. Ignore the hype. Ignore the naysayers. Anyone who tells you that you can’t do what you want is perhaps just jealous of your outlook and your optimism. There are many obstacles in life, but don’t let any one person or group talk you out of what you truly want to do with your career/life.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
Again, hard to pick one, but my one for today is….
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Ghandi