Therapeutic Photography For Mental Health

Photography as therapy

photograph’s message is dependent upon the person looking


Considered as footprints of one’s mind, photographs hold that silent stillness that reflects memories that a person holds dear. Nonetheless, snapshots are documentations of people’s lives that may significantly encourage positive ideations leading to a healthier state of mind. Many people benefit from therapeutic photography as it opens their eyes to the beauty of every place and moment they are in.


Creating Meaning From Imaging


“Most people have a loud inner critic which makes their life more stressful.”  David Klow, a licensed therapist said. With that, the substantial context of any photograph prevails less in its visual meaning and more on what the information or details evoke within the heart and mind of the viewer. Reminiscence also includes the one who took the pictures and the people who appear in them.


Gazing at an image, people automatically, spontaneously create prolific meanings based on what they see and not necessarily what the photographer initially intended it to be. For this reason, any picture is open to interpretation. Thus, a photograph’s emotional message is entirely dependent upon the person looking because different life encounters and perceptions are instantaneously defined in a framed contextual reality.


“We should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection.” Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D. explains. Therefore, an individual’s reactions to snapshots are considered unique because they can reveal a great deal about themselves if the right kinds of questions are asked.





How Therapeutic Photography Is Utilized To Its Full Potential


As “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Catherine Cleveland M.S., LMHC-P explains. It depicts why the majority of people keep snapshot memorabilia to have something to look back to whenever they feel the need to go down memory lane. For therapists, photographs are frozen bridges for exploring, communicating, and accessing memories and feelings that were embedded unconsciously on that particular moment, along with resurfacing any long-forgotten, deeply-buried issues that can initiate meaningful thoughts and feelings.


During therapeutic photography sessions, individual photos are used and shown to serve as tangible and symbolic transitional objects that quietly offer more profound insight in a manner that words alone cannot thoroughly deconstruct or represent.


With a trained therapist’s guidance, therapeutic photography techniques are implemented by allowing clients to explore their family albums and take out images that mean something to them, in addition to what they will visually show. There is potential information ingrained in every photograph, which can be used to precipitate and focus the treatment dialogue, technically a lesser censored and more direct approach to tapping and connecting with the unconscious.


Therapeutic Photography: What To Expect in Sessions


Now that one is aware of the simplified principles, what can people expect during every photography therapy session?


During therapeutic photography sessions, images are not only passively shown in silent reverie but are also:


  • Created during or after meetings
  • Listened to and talked about
  • Posed for
  • Revised or reconstructed to illustrate or create fresh narratives
  • Re-visualized using imagination or memory
  • Integrated into other treatment modalities


The majority of these techniques done with the photographs allow individuals to have a better understanding and reach, and wherein they can comfortably and efficiently express portions of themselves in a manner that were not previously deemed possible.






The Therapist’s Function in Therapeutic Photography


Take note that the primary role of a therapist in photography therapy is to support and encourage the person’s discoveries and at the same time explore personal images and interact in a healthy, non-intrusive manner.


Therapeutic photography is not about therapists interpreting images for their clients, but it is a treatment modality that gives people the opportunity to explore what the images mean and how these images impact or change their lives.