Artist Healer Circle :: Deborah Catton

“I believe that all Art holds some capacity to tap into the depths of viewers and

move them in some way whether the reaction is going to bring up good feelings

or bad. It has the ability to begin a series of questions within the viewer 

that can develop a deeper level of consciousness to themselves 

and the world around them.”

~ Deborah Catton

from Archetypal Conversation deck 2nd ed by Deborah Catton

I stumbled upon this week's Artist~Healer on-line several months ago

and was instantly impressed at her obvious passion 

for the power and potential that exists in the connection between Art and Healing,

and how she is creating her work in the world around this.

Plus, I was a bit infatuated with her imagery, 

and as I read more of what she had written,

I wanted to 'hear' more.

She has spent a lifetime exploring this connection.

you'll see what I mean....

Please welcome today's guest to the circle,

Deborah Catton!


What does being an artist~healer mean to you?

In my case I am an artist... I studied Fine Art at the University level and graduated with a

BFA. I then returned to school about 7 years later to study to become a Master

Herbalist/Clinical Therapist. I used to think of myself as a “healer”, until I really

examined that term and came to understand that “I don’t actually heal people, people

heal themselves”, I simply guide them in their own healing process. I use herbals,

homeopathics, Chinese medicines and flower essences in my practice and I have also

used art processes with clients. The art processes that I use allow my clients to access

into deeper levels of understanding their ‘Dis-ease’ and then using the information

learned as part of their personal healing journey. I believe in the power of the body, mind

and soul to search for balance and heal itself and this is what I practice.

from Rest deck by Deborah Catton

Have you always identified yourself as both an Artist & Healer?

When I first began to study art formally, all of my images were self portrait studies that

explored emotionally charged feelings. I learned later on that I had kept many of these

contained throughout most of my childhood. Suddenly I was given the scale and various

mediums to work with in University and the content of my emotions just poured out into

the work. Some of it appeared disturbing to others as my depictions of myself were very

dramatically presented. I was always surprised when others viewed it and wondered

about what hidden angsts I was dealing with. I however never felt bad, sad or

emotionally drained after creating a drawing in this way... I felt really good, energized

and alive. I thought it was hilarious when others were wondering about my state of

mind, if I was depressed or deeply troubled about something.

It was sometime later on as I completed my degree that I realized that this was all therapy, my therapy. It was an outlet that I thrived with and instead of journaling or meeting with a psychotherapist like

some do, I was using my large drawings to express myself. I also recall that some

where along the way, there was a discussion in one of my art critic classes about art as

therapy and art that is really considered “true art”. We were discussing the need to

know the difference because apparently they could not exist together in the academia

world. I was confused and really resented that anyone would question it or want to

separate it into a different category. I kept on making my images as I had done but I

learned that I should not talk about them in critic sessions with any reference to them

being therapeutic and healing or they would risk being judged as not representative of

“true art”.

 There are many reasons why I did not keep up my practice as an artist when I

graduated and one important one was that I chose to be available for the raising of my

children and the time necessary for having a family. In the middle of this part of my life I

soon had a drive to want to know more about health and in particular using natural

remedies. I started to study this and became completely absorbed in what I was

learning. I loved everything about it and knew that I wanted to be an alternative

practitioner. Intuitively, I just knew that somehow my art would work its way back into my

life, I just needed to be patient about this.

Eventually I graduated, apprenticed and then started my own practice which I have maintained now for 15 years. As I worked with clients, I found that some needed more than a remedy to heal something. Some needed an outlet to express themselves, just like I had back in University. This is when I saw the

opportunity to bring in what I knew about art and its therapeutic value. I became the

archetypal ‘wounded healer‘ and would use my own experience as the basis for what I

was going to offer my clients. [For Jung, 'a good half of every treatment that probes at

all deeply consists in the doctor's examining is his own hurt that gives a

measure of his power to heal.]

I studied some specific processes that are extremely helpful to use with people to access into ones own psyche. I learned more about Jungian concepts and I studied and practiced with several therapeutic modalities and created my own version of expressive art sessions to use with my own clients. I am

careful about my use of the word “art therapy” as I prefer to call it “expressive art”; art

therapy in the traditional sense of the word revolves around a therapists interpretation of

someone's art as part of a process to help the person overcome traumatic issues. I feel

the difference lies in that I do not interpret another’s art in session, I simply allow them

to express themselves, and if “stuff” comes up, we can talk about it, if we need to

explore it further by going deeper into it with the medium we can do that or we can

decide to leave it alone in that moment until we are ready.

from Advanced Body Cards by Deborah Catton

Do you think all Artists are Healers or all Healers are Artists?

I believe that we are all capable of healing ourselves. Some of us need a little help in

understanding this concept and putting it into practice. That is what I believe I offer to

my clients, I provide the guidance, I can help to point them in a direction...then they

have to want to be there and be willing to do their own work.

I also believe that everyone has the potential to create, it is part of the human condition.

I believe that the ability to create is necessary to our happiness, our stability and our

ability to give and receive love with others. I think unfortunately our ability to engage

with our creative side is squashed out of us some where between school age and

becoming an adult. How many children under the age of 6 have you seen that are not

enthusiastic about expressing themselves in a creative capacity? We learn to not trust

in our ability to be creatively engaged, we forget how to play by the time we become


I believe we are all capable of being creative individuals who have the potential to heal

ourselves. If you are capable of healing yourself than you have tapped into your innate

ability to understand and work with your creativity. As far as I’m concerned, they go

hand in hand. Having said all that, I don’t believe that everyone has the drive or desire

to be a career artist, that is a slightly different direction and it requires a commitment

that not all of us are willing to surrender to, nor want.

Rock Talk by Deborah Catton

How does your healing work inform you, or offer you unique perspective, as an Artist?

What my healing work has provided me is the permission and freedom to express

myself and this I take into my art practice as an artist. I don’t separate my own art work

anymore from my healing work...I look at anything I make as representing some aspect

of “me and my own inner work” whether I am conscious of it or not. I accept that it is all

therapy at some level and that this is necessary to being a human and I am proud of

this now. I become excited to share with others that there exists this mysterious and

fascinating method to understanding who we are and what we need.

At this time, what do you see as your true work in the world related to Art and Healing?

I created a series of images a few years ago and shared them with a colleague who

works with clients in a therapeutic setting. This therapist became completely absorbed

with them as potentially a tool to be used with clients in workshops and courses being

taught. I agreed and currently they are part of a working tool that individuals use as part

of their own personal inner work. They are currently being used in a slide show

presentation and as part of a card deck that is used in reference to archetypal images.

They are extremely useful for this purpose as the images and symbols found in them

are part of the collective unconsciousness, which is why they are so delightful to work

with. These images have a depth in them that as you look at them longer and work with

them, suddenly something new reveals itself that was not visible earlier.

These images have become a body of work that reflects a deeply soulful look into the

inner life that we all carry. We all have an outer life ( the part we allow the world to see

on a daily basis) and an inner life (which we tend to keep private from the world and in

some cases unconscious from ourselves). As humans we are constantly engaging in a

series of experiences over the course of our lifetimes that impact us internally in

different ways. Some of these experiences are pleasurable, joyful, perhaps erotic,

where others can be traumatic, painful, or wrenching. These experiences have the

potential to leave a mark or impression within at the soul level. Our reaction to them and

interpretations of them play a significant role in how much space they occupy in our


We are also influenced archetypically to what we carry within our psyche purely

by the interconnectedness we share as humans. As one views the images by spending

a moment quietly contemplating what is before them, symbols, hidden figures and

objects may begin to appear when at first glance they are not as recognizable. As the

viewer allows themselves to wander deeper into the scene, there may begin this

process of actually seeing deeper within themselves.

Content may appear to each individual differently that is based on their own unique experiences and their way of seeing and translating that experience within. Each ‘scene’ could become a ‘still’ of a

moment in any persons life. The images have this relatable quality to them, that draws

the viewer in revealing some impression of how they have interpreted an experience.

The plan is to make them into an official deck of images and a series of journals will be

created with certain images used throughout.

Has anyone had major influence or impact on your journey of discovery as an Artist-Healer?

I believe that every individual (soul) that I have had contact with either through a

personal connection or through being exposed to their work, has provided influence to

me in some way. Everyone you come across in your day, week, month, year, etc is

playing a role in your own personal story.

There are individuals I have studied with personally and there are those whose work I

have studied and have been influenced by. I take something from every experience I

have had and work it into how I present to the people I may be working with.

Jungian concepts, and specific analysts writings and courses have certainly influenced

me. Marion Woodman, James Hollis. Other individuals works such as David Deida,

Joseph Campbell, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Mariane Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Thomas

Moore, Carolyn Myss and really the list goes on.

I have studied several Expressive Art Processes, such as Touch Drawing with Deborah

Koff-Chapin, The Painting Experience, Point Zero Painting, and Soul Collage.

Where can Readers find out more about you or connect with you?

1. I have a website at

Here you will be able to see my art and a sampling of the images from the card deck project that I talked about. You will also be able to see News and upcoming events, as well as a place to contact me.

2. I have a facebook Art page at Deborah Catton Contemporary Expressionist Art

Please LIKE my page and you will be kept up to date of all the latest happenings out of

my studio and some of my projects that I’m working on.

3. My clinical Herbalist Practice is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at the following


In Health Services

Suite 315-908 17Ave SW Calgary, AB T2T 0A3

Phone : (403) 228-1032

Email: Attention Deborah

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