What is the theory behind the Sunflower Effect?

This section is designed for professionals or people with some knowledge and understanding of psychology.

If reading this causes your mind to boggle, there is no need to understand anything about how or why this works. The beauty of the Sunflower Effect is that you don’t need to understand anything for it to work for you.

But for some people, it can make a real difference to understanding more about the psychology behind what happens.

A Non-judgmental space

The Sunflower Effect is a highly effective confidence-building system designed for quiet, shy or introverted people or those who have experienced difficult experiences that have undermined confidence.

My courses offer a non-judgmental space in which participants can free themselves from the psychological barriers that are holding them back from expressing themselves authentically.

The Sunflower Effect brings together the transformational power of drama (based in dramatherapy) enabling them to bypass the mind and connect with their natural instincts – which is where true confidence lies. It literally will bring them alive to who they truly are.

The approach is fun, liberating and in many cases releases life energy that has become stuck due to emotional repression.

See this Article: Is living in your head doing you any good?

Participants can free themselves of the psychological barriers that are holding them backWorking directly with unconscious patterns

The Sunflower Effect is unique in that it works directly with the unconscious patterns deeply buried within you. It does this by using the language the unconscious operates in, story, the language too of dreams. It is also the language that is expressed through powerful archetypes and mythology.

Jung understood the power of this. The Sunflower Effect draws on Jung’s work and takes this one step further by enacting these powerful archetypes and myths. Myth provides a container for accessing your deeper self and the Sunflower Effect the means through which you can release and transform unconscious patterns.

Working with carefully chosen myths from cultures all over the world, some of which are many thousands of years old is particularly powerful as we are tapping into an ancient healing system. In fact, this system has been around for thousands of years.

From earliest times it is known that primitive people practised some kind of dramatic ritual to heal a wide range of situations and conditions. And is still practised by many tribal people to this day.pentheusSparagmosJoseph Campbell understood this, and he also saw how these ancient systems (myths) are still relevant to us today.

Indeed he went further than that to say that we need these myths because they put us back in accord with Nature and that as a civilisation we are hopelessly out of touch with Nature. This is another reason why we are stuck in our heads and cut off from our instincts and intuition.

Bringing myth powerfully alive

The Sunflower Effect brings myth powerfully alive, by bringing it into the here and now, while at the same time drawing strongly on the power of the group to bring about change through empathic witnessing, mutual support, compassion and understanding.

Participants are encouraged to follow the flow of their natural impulses so that they can enter more fully into the emotions of the characters they are exploring. This is so  “deep acting” and catharsis can occur. (It may take a little while for some participants to overcome their inhibitions of working with drama.)

Thus in enacting the myth or story they are accessing and playing out, not just their personal unconscious but the Jungian collective unconscious facilitating profound healing and transformation on many levels.

This can feel like an awareness of something that is “beyond themselves” – even those with very little previous drama experience.

The Sunflower Effect combines the power of myth and drama to bring about deep transformational change which is based on my training and background as a dramatherapist. There is, of course, an awful lot more to it, based on complex psychological theory.

See my book From Wallflower to Sunflower the quiet person’s path to natural self-confidence where I explore this in much more depth.If you are a counsellor, psychotherapist or a professional working in this field, you may want to take a look at the textbook I edited on Ritual Theatre to get a deeper understanding of how this works to bring such powerful psychological change. In the book I refer to this as myth-a-drama.Ritual Theatre CoverThe courses I offer, draw on this methodology to a greater or lesser degree.

Beginners courses, where participants are just learning how to express themselves through the dramatic medium, are less likely to draw on the more powerful effects of this process. Although to a certain extent this depends on the individual participant or the group.

More advanced course are more likely to work in this transformational way.


I have been fascinated with myth and archetype for many years. Right from the beginning of offering my work, I discovered how healing these ancient tales could be as I watched people release long-buried emotions and traumas – as well as expressing their joy and passion.

The myth was “doing the work” and bringing with it the energies of the collective unconsciousness (a Jungian term meaning the energy that underpins everything and links us with everyone and all things). Participants describe this as feeling as if something larger than ourselves being expressed.

I was particularly inspired by the work of the African shaman Malidoma Some – who’s tribe “did not need therapy because they had ritual”- and wanted to bring the spirit of this into the work I was offering.

If you are a therapist, counsellor or holistic practitioner, you may want to check out the Confidence Resources for therapists for more information about specific courses.

More information about courses 

Check out my calendar of events.

See my confidence resources

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New here?

Want to know what’s coming up soon?

My regular courses will return in September (with COVID 19 safeguards).

Find out what its like to attend a Sunflower Effect  Course by joining the next  Livestream Introductory Evening  on 21st July 7.30-9.30.

A great way to get a taste of what to expect before joining one of my courses.

Or join the next live session on September 2nd.

If you’re feeling ready to take the plunge and book for one of my courses – here’s a bit of useful info as to where to get started:

The Breakthrough Group is the first step for many people – particularly if you feel shy, self-conscious or experience social anxiety. I’ve seen some miraculous transformations in my 20 years of running this course.

My next courses next start:
Wed 23rd Sept @ 7.45pm  and Tues 29th Sept   @5.30pm

Or, if speaking up in groups, being heard, or any kind of public speaking is your challenge, then the  Finding Your Voice course is a good place to start. Particularly if anxiety or nerves are an issue. I’ve had people with very severe symptoms including panic attacks, overcome these issues with relative ease.

My next courses start:
Thurs 24th Sept@ 7.45pm  and 1st Oct @5.30pm

“I don’t know what to say” improvisation for social confidencei s great for people with average confidence who experience some form of social anxiety or awkwardness but find themselves stumped with knowing what to say. Working through improvisation and will transform your verbal confidence and social skills.

Next course starts Tuesday 22nd Sept 7.45-9.45pm

You can book online for all my courses and events.

If you’re not sure which course is right for you, book a telephone appointment with me or get in touch by email

I look forward to hearing from you

Best, Claire