“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” – Ralph Hattersley
Remember the last time you took a photo? It could’ve been because you liked a view or wanted something to remember a moment by. What you may not realise is that decision to take a picture can promote personal growth and healing. How so and how can this help your clients, too? Let’s talk more about healing through photography below.
Therapy and Photos
Using photos is one of the ways therapists encourage self-reflection in their clients. This method is called PhotoTherapy. During these sessions, a therapist will ask a client to explore the photos they took or have, and then recall the stories and emotions behind it. The images serve as a natural bridge to access the embedded memories in the subconscious.
Therapists believe that through exploring these photos with their clients, they can get valuable insights as well as create a less censored dialogue. When clients undergo silent contemplation of their memories, they can discover themselves in a different light. All of which helps a therapist reach and understand a client better.
What is Therapeutic Photography?
Not to be confused with PhotoTherapy, Therapeutic Photography involves a person taking photos and then analysing and reflecting on those photos for personal growth and healing. Therapeutic Photography is a journey someone takes – from conceptualising how a picture is taken to pairing it with creative writing if preferred.
It’s all about digging into a person’s thoughts and emotions and channelling it into self-expression. After all, when an individual focuses on his authentic self, it can be enlightening and liberating.
Art and Healing
Lancaster University did a study on how taking photos improved a person’s well-being in 2018. The study found that subjects practised more self-care and community interaction. Meanwhile, back in 2010, a compilation of studies supported the connection between art and healing.
Some of which are:
- People express their feelings better through art and the use of symbols that have special meaning to them.
- Art allowed people to see life more positively, especially those suffering from an illness. It helped them briefly escape intense emotions.
- Artistic self-expression helps people build or maintain a positive identity or stay true to their authentic selves.
- Creating art is an effective stress reliever.
The Benefits of Therapeutic Photography
The urge to take photos isn’t just about keeping a memory. It can be the inner self telling you that it’s good for the mind, heart, and spirit. Give in to that urge because you’ll grow in more ways than one.
- You connect more with everything around you.
Therapeutic Photography encourages you to make connections, whether it is to establish social bonds, get closer to animals, or reconnect with nature. You will constantly be thinking of different subjects to capture, which helps broaden your perspective of the world.
- You see the world differently.
Speaking of perspective, you start seeing the world in a new light. You’re more motivated to show the beauty in the things around you, which enables you to think and feel more positively. As a result, you develop a deeper appreciation and gratitude for life itself.
- It’s a way to communicate without saying anything.
People who go through depression and anxiety have a hard time communicating their real feelings and thoughts to others. Through photography, they can express themselves without saying a word. This can elicit positive feedback and encouraging words from other people, even strangers.
- Therapeutic Photography is a powerful tool for reflection and self-expression.
The journey you take allows you to get to know yourself better and how you want to express yourself. For some people, taking and editing photos is enough. For others, pairing it with writing is more therapeutic. This is because you get to reflect on the pictures and express their inner-most thoughts through writing stories or thought-provoking anecdotes.
- You create a deeper connection to your subconscious mind.
It’s therapeutic in a way that you get to go deeper into your subconscious and discover more about your inner world. For people with depression, it invites them to navigate through the reasons why they feel what they feel, and perhaps, also discover ways on how to deal with their struggles in a lighter way. When you’re more in tune with yourself, progress follows.
- It allows you to focus on others and not just yourself.
People who can’t find an effective way to express themselves tend to stay silent. However, isolation thrives in silence. The more you don’t speak up, the more it affects your mind and heart. Through therapeutic photography, you no longer focus on yourself all the time. By seeing the beauty in other people, things, and nature, there is a shift in looking outward.
- Your journey shows your growth.
The trail of photos taken describes a story – a story of healing and growth. It is powerful! When you see how much you’ve changed and grown through the process, it is empowering. Those photos serve as reminders and insights on how beautiful life is if you only allow yourself to look through that lens.
The benefits of Therapeutic Photography on mental health for clients are unquestionable, however, how can this also help you as a healthcare professional? Practitioners need a creative outlet, too. The reality is, that as a practitioner, you also need healing and growth.
Try it today, snap a photo, reflect, and maybe, even share it with your clients!