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Shadows of Sylvaheim (pronounced silver-heim) is a teaching tool, as well as a damn good story for all ages. 

It was written by Dr Toula Gordillo as part of a doctorate in creative arts at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Its purpose was originally to help youth to become more resilient by reframing and illuminating positive mental health messages for young adult readers. It has, however, been well received by youth and older adults alike.  

The novel covers contemporary themes of living in poverty, parent/child conflict, issues of grief and loss as well as alcohol abuse and substance misuse. The themes are initially explored in the "real" world of Aurora (located somewhere west of Australia's Great Dividing Range).   

In a true hero's journey story, the characters then enter a mythical universe with magical elements (a place called Sylvaheim). Here, Jack (16) and his quirky sister Emily (14) are separated by a huge hedge of silver. As they journey through Sylvaheim, they converse with a riddle talking tree, Jack falls in love with a water nymph called Ari and talks with Faeries. Emily 'frees' herself from her shadow, Mr Bogle and becomes trapped in a cave where she learns to confront her deepest fears.  

This novel is not only entertaining, but also informative. It is presently used with youth in schools, as well as part of Story Image Therapy (SIT) for individuals of all ages in medical centres and other insitutions in Australia, New Zealand and India.

About The Author

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Dr Toula Gordillo is the clinical director of an organisation called Talk to Teens. Presently a practicing Clinical and Jungian (spiritual) psychologist, she is also a former teacher, guidance counsellor and head of student services in some of Australia's largest high schools.   

Dr Gordillo is the creator of Story Image Therapy and founder of the Spiritual Psychology Network (SPN). This non-government, not-for-profit organisation is aimed at helping to improve people's mental health through a combination of ancient psychology, philosophy and spirituality.  

For more information, please see: or

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