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What is Shadow Work?

Shadow Work Therapy
Working Online via Zoom

Symbolic representation

Symbolic representation

When exploring the shadow in one-to-one in-person sessions, I often make use of a central carpet in the room as a metaphor to represent the clients' inner world or psyche - that is, a place where we can represent the parts of you showing up in whatever current or historic issue we are exploring. It is also a place where we can bring and represent any person or in fact anything else that needs to be present in the work: this could be a group, an organisation, an idea, concept, a dream or story etc. These people and these parts are symbolically represented on the carpet, often using large coloured pieces of fabric.

See here for more details about what to expect in a session if you are not already familiar with the concept of symbolic representation and its role in exploring the psyche in shadow work therapy.

When working online it is helpful for you to prepare the space in advance of our session in order to recreate the studio space (where I work face to face) as much as possible: in person shadow work takes place on a ‘carpet’, a rug in the centre of the studio which is used to symbolise your ‘inner world’, a space where we can represent and explore parts of you and explore any dynamics in your inner or outer relational field.

Symbolic representation in this way is unique to shadow work and there is deep value for you in setting up your space so that this can be a component of your online session. There is something about the perspective it gives that can be a very illuminating and powerful part of your process, your understanding and your insight as we work together.

For some people, there is initial resistance to the idea of symbolic representation, or the use of coloured fabric in the work. If this is true for you, I invite you to voice this so that we can explore this further.

Carpet Work in Shadow Work.JPG
Preparing your room

Preparing your room

  1. It is important that you have a good internet connection otherwise we will not be able to work effectively.

  2. The ideal space is a bright, clutter free room with floorspace where you can mark out an area to be your 'carpet'. You can do this by laying down a rug or a throw on the floor. You need it to be roughly the area of a double bed, larger is also fine. 

  3. You will need a place to come back to, a seating place off the 'carpet'. A space where you can sit comfortably and look at the carpet and talk with me as we move through your process, reflect and decide what to do next. While we are working you will need to move the laptop so that I can see you wherever you are in the room as you step on and off the carpet.

  4. Do your best to find a space to work where you will not be overheard or interrupted. Please put 'Do Not Disturb' signs on any relevant doors to ensure your privacy.

  5. Make sure there will be no one else in the room with you, and no pets in the room if at all possible.

Other items to have to hand

Other items to have to hand

  1. Please get together some coloured pieces of fabric. These could be different coloured single bed sheets, shawls, scarves, capes, towels etc. These are used to represent the parts of your inner world and for you to stand on/by or to put around you when you step onto the carpet (into your inner world) and into different parts of yourself to explore them experientially (if that is what you choose to do).

  2. A few large sheets of paper and a thick pen. Or even better a white board if you have one.

  3. Cushions or pillows are good to have around. Blankets too for you to be comfortable.

  4. There is also an invitation for you to find any other props or objects that may be useful or significant for you that might be helpful in representing your work and to help bring things more to life. This may include dolls, soft toys or sacred objects that may be used to represent parts of you, other people, or anything else that needs to be represented in your process. This is optional.

During breaks

During breaks

In longer sessions, during breaks and lunchtime when we will both be away from the screen I will keep my screen on to stay connected with you should you need me. You are welcome to do the same or to turn yours off. Much like in in-person sessions, during breaks I invite you to stay 'in the process' by not looking at emails, social media etc if at all possible. This allows space for other things to arise into awareness and be brought into the work together.

Anger Work

Anger Work

Sometimes anger can arise in a session and when this happens you may choose to process and express it. If you feel this may be a possibility for you then it will be of benefit to have a few additional things to hand:

  1. You will need a tennis or squash racket (or similar) - the old wooden ones are excellent, very tough and can be picked up second hand for very little

  2. A very firm (dust free) cushion (or similar) to hit

  3. A cushion for you to kneel on


If you have any questions about any of the above please don't hesitate to ask them.

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