“Phototherapy is not a therapy unto itself or a particular modality or school of thought: rather, it is a comprehensive system of techniques that has been found to work successfully, often in cases where nothing else has.” (J. Weiser)
In the extensive website Phototherapy-centre.com, Judy Weiser defines: Phototherapy as the use of photography in a therapeutic context; Therapeutic Photography as the use of photographs as tools for self exploration and self-discovery. However these definitions, though widely accepted, are not written in stone.
In my work I use the term Therapeutic Photography to refer to the creation of new photographic images with the client within a therapy.
With Phototherapy I intend the use and manipulation of existing photographic images (e.g collages; projective cards, family album) during a dialog based session.
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Like photography, therapy allows us to:
what tool to use (as a given camera, lens, lights, film or memory card influence the possibilities of photographic realisation, in the same way by choosing the specialist with whom you start a therapy, you opt for a certain interaction, a theoretical position, a method, a timing and a space that will influence the possibilities of the therapeutic path)
a situation, a problem, a relationship, a dynamic, ourselves, others…
-taking and changing perspectives
on the current self, the past self, a specific role, the other’s perspective…
on an aspect of the problem, on a side of the personality, on a need/an emotion/a role we play in life…
a part of self, a relationship, emotionality, control, acceptance, communication and interpersonal skills…
-ANXIETY & STRESS
Often, while taking photos, one can find oneself in ‘flow’, which brings many health benefits similar to those of meditation, such as calming the mind and providing stress relief.
With phototherapy, a person can explore different parts of their personality and bring to the surface those that are not visible in everyday life.
-SELF-ACCEPTANCE & SELF-ESTEEM
Neuroplasticity tells us that our brain has the ability to constantly change throughout life and develop new connections. By creating self-images, one can work on self-acceptance and build self-esteem.
-GRIEF & LOSS PROCESSING
Images can help people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words, such as a diagnosis or trauma. Furthermore a 2014 study found that those who participated in creating visual art had a significant increase in psychological resilience.
A person’s perspective on themselves and the world can be gradually explored and changed through the process of taking pictures, analysing them and discussing them with others.
The mix feelings, memories and open issues connected to experiencing migration can be elaborated within a Therapeutic Photography session.