Susan Schellenberg

My hope for my story and dream art is that they can contribute to contemporary meditations on what it means to heal and allow others to recall the world and peace-making possibilities of their own dreams.


Shedding Skins

Moore Guestures

Casting A Vessel


Committed To The Sane Asylum

NARRATIVES ON MENTAL WELLNESS AND HEALING — Susan Schellenberg, and Rosemary Barnes

Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine 2009 Book of the Year Award in the Psychology Category

Psychologist Dr. Rosemary Barnes has worked at Toronto General and Women’s College Hospitals and been affiliated with the University of Toronto, York University and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She has published on suicide, HIV conditions and residential schools and has provided expert opinion in legal cases relating to lesbian/gay issues and trauma. She is currently in independent practice.

Artist and writer Susan Schellenberg, began her career as a public nurse. In 1980, Susan committed to healing from a 1969 psychosis and ten years of anti-psychotic drugs and to keeping an art and written record of her dreams and inner journey as her mind healed. Susan’s Shedding Skins dream art and text is on permanent exhibit in the main lobby at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto.

Barnes, R, Schellenberg, S (2014). Take it public: Use art to make healing a public narrative. In B Burstow, B LeFrangois, & S Diamond, (Eds.), Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution (pp. 177-193), Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“Do Psychotropic Medications Increase Disability Rates in Canada?” by Rosemary Barnes and Susan Schellenberg, Canadian Women’s Health Network newsletter:

Armstrong M., Schellenberg S. Using Art to Heal: Painting the Psyche’s Message. 08.09.11 blog dialogue.

Barnes, R., Schellenberg S. The pleasures of healing, the possibilities for mental health care. Canadian Women’s Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 24: 194-199.

Dream Interpret Grow

Watch on Vimeo

Dream Interpret Grow (DIG) uses artist, narrator Susan Schellenberg’s dream paintings to illustrate varied dream interpretation techniques that; informed her 30-year dream journey, helped her to clear a psychosis core and to restore mind/body well being after a ten-year course of prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.

“Lovely voice and use of images creates the sense of being in a dream with a wise, reassuring guide, who points out that all that seems strange or chaotic is actually understandable, meaningful, and helpful.” —Psychologist, Rosemary Barnes

Artist's Statement

On January 14, 2015, an email meant to inspire my coming year and sent by the respected activist organization called Avaaz. contained the following statement.

“ . . . Dag Hammarskjöld, the great UN leader, once reflected that we'd never make sustainable progress in our world until we all "walked the longest journey". The journey within. Each of our capacities to create the world we dream of depends on our own journey, from fear to love, towards believing in ourselves, and leaving our demons behind. . .”

Prior to the Avaaz email, I had rarely heard inner emotional work publicly valued as “real work.”

Yet, from the 1980’s onward, mentors informed a similar change in my attitudes towards inner work and in doing so,

  • Helped dissolve the stigma of my psychiatric experience,
  • Convinced me that emotional work was actually revolutionary,
  • Freed me to replace shame with pride and regard for the contribution an individual’s recovery work could offer the culture.

As a woman artist and writer whose childhood history of sexual abuses was silenced by a schizophrenia diagnosis then treated with a ten-year course of prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, I hope my story and dream art can bring awareness to the fact that sufferers, their families and communities would benefit if the care and treatment of emotional pain was widened from our existing diagnosis /medication psychiatric model to one that valued and supported recovery as "real work" and as invaluable to the peace of the individual as it is to the whole.


Reproductions of Susan’s art works, individually printed to their original size on archival paper and executed by Toronto Image Works who print for the AGO and McMichael Galleries may be obtained by contacting