Innovative Resources


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Symbols evoke profound emotions and memories, often without our making rational or conscious connections. They surround us and they help navigate through life, providing short cuts to understandings, ideas and feelings. In a therapeutic relationship, the use of visual images can assist a client to get in touch with otherwise inaccessible personal realities.

Symbols is a set of cards featuring 100 hand-drawn, iconic images that have resonance for people grappling with the big questions in life. Some of the symbols evoke difficulties and challenges (Knot, Hourglass, Question Mark, Gravestone). Others bring to mind possibilities, hopes and achievement (Trophy, Balloon, Rainbow, Bridge). Some of the symbols transcend cultures; some might feel very familiar to you, others less so.

  • Choose a card at random. What does this symbol mean to you? What words come to mind? Does this symbol conjure any particular memories?
  • Use the cards to explore group dynamics and identity. Does the symbol have different meanings for different group members? How to members react emotionally to each symbol? What does this reveal about similarities or differences between group members?
  • Choose a card that interests you or select one at random. What does the symbol mean to you? Does it suggest a story you might like to write? Who could you imagine reading your story?
  • Which Symbols card or cards helps you define or describe your understanding of spirituality? Is there a card that represents mystery? Are there any cards you could draw on to broaden spiritual possibilities?
  • Which cards say something about your pet likes and dislikes? Which symbols do you imagine another person would choose to describe you? Is there a symbol that sums up your relationship with a significant person in your life?

Originally developed as a tool for grief and loss counselling, Symbols is a highly versatile card set, ideal for use in teaching, creative arts therapy, family counselling and many other fields. Beautiful in their simplicity, the Symbols cards make great prompts for public-speaking, storytelling, icebreakers, mind-mapping and interviewing.

Symbols - new packaging

Published by Innovative Resources, 2007
ISBN: 978 1 9209451 90
100 laminated, full-colour cards, 105mm x 105mm
Full colour polypropylene box, 48 page booklet
Booklet authors: Linda Espie & Russell Deal
Designer: Brad Welsh