From Drama Teacher to Drama Therapist
Leah Batty-Hibbs radiates enthusiasm for the work she’s doing as a drama therapist and for the incredible things she’s learning as a student in Antioch University Seattle’s Counseling and Supervision PhD program.
“I am excited about this work,” she says. “I am incredibly energized.”
Batty-Hibbs’ path to becoming a drama therapist wasn’t conventional. She began a career in education as a drama teacher in England, where she is from. After marrying her husband and moving to the United States, her accomplishments as a teacher did not transfer over and she could not work in the same position. She knew she loved working with children and that being an educator was important to her, so she pursued a job in supplemental education for a company called Huntington Learning Center based in the East Coast where she was living.
She loved the work she did for Huntington, but once again, she was faced with change when she and her husband moved to Seattle. Once she was in Seattle, however, she felt ready to explore new opportunities.
“I truly felt like this was the area community-wise where I could be my authentic self and something shifted in the identity of who I am as a human being,” she says.
When she discovered drama therapy, something clicked. “It came full circle, the fact that I wanted to do my master’s, I have a background in theater, and my passion and drive for the healing profession so to speak. I felt as if this opportunity just fell at my feet. It was meant to be.”
Batty-Hibbs enrolled in Antioch’s Master’s of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program with a concentration in Drama Therapy. At the time, she couldn’t imagine how that decision would change her both professionally and personally.
“Antioch and my experience here has built my community, it’s part of who I am,” she says.
She pushed through the hard work of the master’s program, valuing the social justice perspective Antioch offered her and the endless support from faculty she received along the way.
After graduating, she began working at Kitsap Mental Health Services as a Child and Family Therapist. She also started a private practice in Bremerton. She is passionate about the work she does and grateful for the present opportunity she has to give back to her neighborhood by working in a community mental health agency.
Then, a year ago, once again opportunity knocked at her door and she felt called to answer it. Although she was initially unsure if it was the right time to enter the PhD program in Counseling and Supervision, she ultimately decided it was “now or never.”
“I’ve grown so much throughout the four quarters I’ve been in the program,” she says. “I’m becoming a more advanced and knowledgeable clinician because of the work I am doing here in the PhD program. I’m becoming a more well rounded individual. It’s extremely intricate, this learning process has depth and intensity.”
Batty-Hibbs is also excited to be learning how to write and publish, and plans on doing drama therapy research after she graduates.
A self-described life-long learner, she is trying to make the most of each opportunity she has been given. “There are many things on the horizon and I’m trying not to rush. I’m focused on being present and appreciating every moment.”