What is Photography Therapy?

Photography is more than just taking photographs. It can also be used as a holistic approach to therapy through the expression of thoughts and feelings. Photography can be used as a form of therapy, especially for those experiencing various forms of mental or psychological issues. Photography can help you better express, understand and even overcome mental issues such as anxiety and depression.

Photography can help you to get back on track especially after suffering from any tragic or sad incident. Photographs have some kind of healing effect on many people out there. There are times when expression through words may be difficult for you and only through photography can you express what you are actually experiencing or feeling.

The Two Types of Photography as a Means of Therapy

There are usually two types of photography that are accepted to be forms of therapy. They are phototherapy and therapeutic photography. It is important to note, though, that both of these types of therapy photography do not actually require advanced photographic skills, knowledge or training to do.

Here below we take an in-depth look into the two distinct types of photography therapy:

  1. Therapeutic Photography

Therapeutic photography, just like the name suggests, is a form of photography that involves taking photos with the purpose of helping in personal healing, reflection, and growth. The process can either be done consciously or unconsciously by the individual involved.

You can actively explore, construct, and even reflect on the photos by paring them with creative writing and get to learn more about yourself and how you perceive the world to be.

To begin, you can either personally or in a group take photos and store them for purposes of the therapy. In a case where you are just personally involved in the taking of photos without the assistance of a therapist, there actually is no therapy session that is involved. However, the main thing here will be just the photos and taking photos that will provide therapy in itself.

The other important point to note is that therapeutic photography is not only just about taking photos alone. There are other aspects involved such as posing for the photos, viewing the photos, discussing the photos, visualizing or imagining the photos taken. For you to partake better in therapeutic photography, it can be better to join adventure or camera clubs that get involved in photo taking sessions.

  1. Phototherapy

While therapeutic photography may be done by an individual for his or her personal self-inquiry, phototherapy is different. Phototherapy involves therapy techniques that are used most often by therapists to help their patients to cope up with their emotional or even personal problems. In Phototherapy, the camera is used as a tool of effecting personal or social change. It has been established that the way a person reacts to a particular image at a certain time may provide clues to their unconscious.

Here are some phototherapy techniques which are often used in phototherapy:

  • Projective Process – the projective process is defined as a person’s emotional reaction to photographs basically coming from within the person and reflected unto the image itself. The projective process technique is usually used to help the patient to improve and build their confidences and also explore the influences they may have. The projective process is usually most beneficial when working with people who are marginalized more so when the issues that are being dealt with are not visible and evolve around individual identities.

  • Self-Portraits – therapists use the self-portraits technique when they are dealing with a client who is conscious and in complete control of how they see and perceive themselves. When a person takes a photo, he/she is usually in control of the pose and style they deem fit. In self-portraits, there is usually no outside interference, and the final photo that is released to the public is what the owner likes. Self-portraits can help women as well as those who have been marginalized with constraints against them externally.

  • Photographs Taken of the Client by Other People – When you start to view a photo of yourself that is taken by another person, you get to have an opportunity of finding out how a person views you. You basically have the opportunity to have a glimpse of the outside view of yourself. You have the sense of how the world views you and get to find out if the views go hand in hand with the self-portrait.

Looking at photography and how it can help people who need therapy

There are just so many reasons why photography is proving to be a good form of therapy. There are a number of methods of using photography as a form of therapy. A person, for instance, can decide to write down his feelings and thoughts before finally using photos to explain what they have written down.

Here, it must be noted that it is always just not about the photos but rather the process that is involved. Taking the images, carrying the camera, looking through the lens, hearing the clicking sound of the camera and also walking around looking for scenes and situations to capture, just makes photography therapeutic.

Photography offers people a platform that they can use to have a look at the world in an objective manner. Through the images that people can see, they get a sense of the real life they are living and not the usually protected thoughts that people keep deep in their minds. This way, people get to become mindful of the things that are around them and what is actually happening in sharp contrast to what they think (and is some instances believe) are happening. When one develops mindfulness in photography, it is therapeutic because it exposes the hidden realities the individual thought he/she knew about.

Photography is a way that people can express themselves, and for this, it can be used to uncover a person’s real psychological state. Through photography, a person’s genuine feelings and emotions can be exhibited. This allows others to get to understand a person better without the person actually having to utter words that would otherwise be difficult to say. This facet of photography makes it a real deal of therapy as it goes a long way in liberating a person from things which previously may have been understood about him/her!

Photography enables people to see things in more depth and also be more attentive to the things that they see, hear, think, and feel. Photography encourages people to ask more questions which, in the end, encourage people to become even more enlightened about certain matters which before made them worried or confused. The therapeutic part of photography here is that it enables people to have a deeper understanding which in a way is healing.

Through photography, people can change their daily experiences. Taking a photo of something that was otherwise ordinary to you in a different angle can bring a new dimension of how you think of it. Through photography, things that were just ordinary can change and become special, especially when you look back at them in photos. Here the therapeutic aspect of photography comes in the sense that looking at a picture can bring a positive and happy feeling that did not exist before.