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Shadows and the Shadow

Reflections from the shadow side

A Resource for Exploring our Darkest Moments

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 liked to 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 SpeakReflexionsInside 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)

 

Excerpt from ‘Calling Cards for Recovery,’ SOON No. 62, 2013

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is one of Australia’s most high profile charities, counting politicians and celebrities among its patrons, including Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Today, the Foundation has established itself as a leading advocate for child victims of violence, caring for children who have experienced or witnessed violence, and running programs to prevent violence in children’s lives at home and school. Children Ahead is one of the Foundation’s programs, developed to support the recovery of children affected by violence or trauma

Ten-year-old ‘Trent’ is one of many children who have benefited from Children Ahead after being referred by his school for aggression, abusive language and bullying. Exposed to domestic violence and his father’s substance abuse, Trent had been removed from his parents to live with his aunt and uncle. But violence and disruption had left their scars. Trent suffered from nightmares and often talked about his mother, asking why she never called. At school, he was struggling academically and also struggling with friendships, alienating other children with his bossy and demanding behaviour.

Over a four month period, Sharon Teague, a caseworker with Children Ahead, formed a good relationship with Trent, making regular visits to his home and school, and providing the boy with time and space to address his experiences and feelings.

Unexpectedly, she and her team discovered that Trent was not only very creative, but also able to talk about experiences with the help of images. During one school visit, Sharon spread the Shadows cards on the floor. Trent studied the cards then thoughtfully picked out the card depicting a darkened figure and a baby crying in its cot. ‘This is like my mum,’ Trent began, ‘how she feels sometimes; this mum is stressed. Sometimes stressed mums kill babies; she doesn’t know what to do anymore.’

Next, he selected the card showing a security door and barred window, and said ‘There are lots of padlocks; a cranky person lives here. He doesn’t like people to see what’s inside; it’s messy.’ Choosing another card he explained, ‘They’re laughing at his face ‘cause it’s weird. They’re laughing at him.’

Trent also selected the cards that showed images of a seagull and a boy lying in bed, which reflected his strong connection to nature and love of the outdoors. When asked to select a card that represented the future, he chose the card of a table laid for celebration and said it could be any time his family were all together.

‘We are still working on assertive communication, managing his strong emotions and building Trent’s self-esteem,’ Sharon cautions. But school reports show that Trent is progressing well and teachers have remarked on his improved attention in class. Carer reports also indicate that Trent is more relaxed and sleeping better. Best of all, Trent had made friends at his local basketball club. He had even been invited to a birthday party for the first time in his life.’

Excerpt from ‘The Masks of Grief,’ The Serious Optimist, no. 31, 2006.

Bette Phillips is Family Support Services Coordinator for families and individuals bereaved by workplace fatalities. She also facilitates grief-related workshops, one of which focuses on the masks of grief.

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 centerpiece 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.

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:

From the Shadows booklet: ‘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.