Shadow and Light: Images for Women in Recovery

Images for Women in Recovery (example drawing)
Drawing by Cat Saunders

“Cat Saunders knows how to help heal the deep wounds of women. Now her “Shadow and Light” images offer up to us the many faces of the human soul. As we increase our awareness to all that we are, we transform and blossom into our true beauty. Cat’s work is brilliant and will benefit many.”  —Sandra Ingerman

By Cat Saunders

“Shadow and Light: Images for Women in Recovery” is a collection of 64 graphic images that have been made into a deck used for self-exploration and healing.

The images were selected from 1300 daily drawings I completed between 1983 and 1987.  One example of the images is shown above.

This website is now in the process of being updated from its old form into a new, mobile-friendly version.  As a result, this complex section of images and stories is still under construction.

In the meantime, while awaiting the complete version of this section, here’s an excerpt for you from the personal story behind the drawings:

What Makes This Deck Different?

As you know, there are numerous decks of images available in the marketplace today. While many of these decks focus on transformation, very few provide graphic representations of the emotional or physical pain that seeks to be transformed.

Instead, many decks of images emphasize the end result after transformation, with the idea that if you simply focus on what you want, everything else will just magically fall away.

While that perspective has its merits, it also has serious liabilities. When “shadow” images are not included along with images of transcendence, it can contribute to feelings of isolation and shame for those who feel “lost in the darkness.”

When people feel ashamed, afraid, or alone in their pain, they are more likely to deny it, suppress it, or turn it against themselves or others. Needless to say, these responses are more likely to exacerbate the pain, instead of helping it heal.

As noted author and child advocate Alice Miller has observed, people can more easily survive and transcend trauma if they have a compassionate witness.

In a similar way, these drawings can serve as a kind of “compassionate witness” in drawing form. That is, the images are offered as an expression of—and a mirror to—the many faces of the human soul.

I believe that the “seeds” of every human feeling and experience reside within each person’s heart. I also believe that one of my jobs as a psychotherapist is to help people become more aware and accepting of these seeds of humanity in their own hearts and in the hearts of others.

Thus, denial or suppression of any aspect of the psyche is not my goal. Awareness, acceptance, and responsible expression of all aspects of the psyche is my goal.

Cat Saunders, Ph.D., is a counselor in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Dr. Cat’s Helping Handbook: A Compassionate Guide for Being Human (available through Amazon). Contact Cat by emailing her or by calling 206-329-0125 (24-hour voicemail).