Therapeutic storytelling tools
Telling stories can be a powerfully therapeutic practice. For many people, sharing stories of their lived experiences is an important part of moving forward.
Shadows and Deeper Shadows is an emotionally charged set of 48 watercolour cards, plus instructional booklet, that prompts viewers to explore the meaning of the shadows in their lives and notice how the light gets in.
The cards invite viewers to reflect on their experiences through images and messages of hope that are open for interpretation, allowing people to shape a narrative that is true to them.
Shadows and Deeper Shadows has been carefully designed as a resource that human service workers can use to help others describe and deal with their pain and sorrow on their terms.
This resource acknowledges that pain and suffering (such as grief, depression, loss and violence) often need to be storied before pathways to resolution can be found.
Shadows and Deeper Shadows is an invaluable tool for counsellors, psychologists and therapists and provides emotional support to individuals and clients who could benefit from reflection and conversation.
Stories and Reviews
‘A card set that has always struck a chord with me is Shadows and Deeper Shadows. I am drawn to the rawness and the darkness of the set, and the realism of the pictures. Throughout certain times in my life I have lived those images, and every time I see the set it takes me back in some way to certain times in my life. I find them very reflective.’
– Chris Cain, Victoria
Mental Health Counselling
‘When I purchased the Shadows cards at an American Counselling Association Convention, one of the salespeople asked if I would provide feedback about my experience with using this tool. I am a mental health counsellor at a small university, and several of my students/clients are art students. I have found the cards to be particularly helpful in working with students who are having difficulty disclosing or focusing on the issue that has brought them to counselling.
Today I used the cards in a group and asked the students to provide consent and feedback. Here are the student group comments:
The cards are insightful and thought provoking, revealing. This is an interesting way to explore ourselves and others.’
The cards are used in a very interesting way to make me think about myself. They got me thinking that is for sure.
The cards were a very interesting tool to introduce feelings that people in the group can relate to that person.
The cards are very good at evoking strong emotion. The artwork and details are very powerful.
As the facilitator of the group, I noted that several members shared more in this group than any prior meeting. I truly appreciate the use of a new tool that helps me help others.’
– Pat Rusinek, Counsellor, Alfred University (USA)
Shadows in Japan
Grief and bereavement counsellor, Linda Espie, regularly uses the Shadows cards in workshops in Japan. Here are some comments from participants:
‘I like using the Shadows cards as a way to explore the darkness I feel. We don’t often use darkness as a focus; it was good self-awareness for me.’ Palliative care nurse
‘We each chose a different Shadows card. All agreed the cards reflected our personal daily life and for some, our past experience. This was a good introduction to each other.’ Pastoral care worker
‘The three of us chose the same Shadows card with the green growth among the trees which were quite dark. Even so, we spoke together focusing on hope.’ Unit nurse manager
Grief and Loss: Hidden feelings and masks
I have used the Shadows and Deeper Shadows cards in workshops. I regularly facilitate a workshop that focuses on the masks of grief. One module encourages the participant to choose a card that reflects some of the hidden feelings that they keep inside when in public to appear normal.
The card that shows a brick building, for instance, has a small vase of bright flowers in the window. One woman said that the building reminded her of her emptiness and feelings of loneliness, yet the flowers showed that there was still a flicker of life deep in her being. Her mask reflected starkness of colour using veils over the mask (several layers) and a brightness under the veils to show that one day she would find a way to show that aspect of herself once more.
Another card showing a mug and cracked glasses reminded a woman that she felt ‘shattered’; her mask showed cracks and fissures strongly imprinted all over the mask.
The making of the masks was done in silence so that each person could concentrate on their thoughts and feelings, and stay in touch with the level of energy they were experiencing. One mask was bright and shiny with a sad face underneath; another beautifully jewelled indicating the children still surviving with a beautiful centrepiece for the son who had died. Another showed a number of veils suggesting that no one could see the ‘real me’; and yet another was painted simply with a single tear.’
– Bette Phillips, Grief Support Worker
Expressive Art Therapy
‘Innovative Resources’ materials are WONDERFUL!! I do prevention work with youth, and also expressive art therapy with people in addiction treatment. I’ve used many of your resources including Deep Speak, Reflexions, Inside Out and, most recently, Shadows, with amazing results. I also have the Everyday Goddess cards and took them along to my last writing circle—they were wonderful creative writing prompts. Your organisation provides a great breath of fresh air to the human services field. Thank you!’
– Judith Prest (Duanesburg, NY, USA)
Green Among the Ashes
School teachers and creative arts therapists are big fans of Innovative Resources’ card sets. But usually we don’t get a chance to share the creative fruits of those they work with. However, Olivia Ormonde, our intrepid work experience student, was more than up to the challenge of showing where a single card can lead. Below is her powerful response to one evocative image from the Shadows and Deeper Shadows card set:
‘Choose a Shadows card, and write from that character’s perspective, put yourself in their shoes. What are they thinking, feeling dreaming? If you have trouble starting, pretend you are the person writing in their journal.’
Green Among the Ashes
I visited home today for the second time. It was a bit of a relief to update the image of the property in my mind, getting rid of the bleak first image.
The first visit back was three days after, when the fire department deemed the town safe again. That visit was nearly as bad as the actual day itself. It seemed like an alien landscape as we drove through town. Even the people we’ve known all our lives seemed like strangers, everyone’s head hung low while their colourless faces scanned for lost possessions.
The house had been demolished: as soon as we came around the bend in the road we could see that. The only thing sticking out of the blackened ground was a big shadowy shape. We couldn’t figure out what it was until we got closer. Lucy was the first one to realize. It nearly made me laugh when she told me. It was Mum and Dad’s old Philico fridge. I’ve hated that stubborn old thing since we got given it. We didn’t give it away as we thought it would cark it in a couple of months, but it never seemed to. This really was a testament to how stubborn it was—not even 90 km/h winds and blistering heat could kill it.
When we got out of the car everyone grew silent, tears welled in Jenny’s eyes instantly. There was just devastation everywhere you looked. I couldn’t even look over to the paddocks, as I didn’t want to admit to myself what the blackened mounds really were. The kids were okay, until they lost it when they went over to the dog kennels. It took hours to console our youngest.
So today’s visit in comparison was much less eventful. The ground still clung to its new black cloak, but this time green littered the surface. There were new shoots growing off the scorched trees and new life growing out of the ground. When the light hit the leaves it was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen. It made me remember why I loved living in the bush so much. My feelings of disgrace, the guilt that I had made my family live in this environment which I knew could be deadly, slipped to the back of my mind for the first time in months.