Photography can be more than a hobby. Photography can be very therapeutic. Judy Weiser, a psychologist, coined the term Phototherapy in the mid-70s to describe the therapeutic effects of photography and other activities with photos on people. Photography effectively fights anxiety, depression, stress, phobias and low self-esteem.
The internet platform, created by Judy Weiser, is an important source of evidence about the healing power of photography. The One Project is another interesting resource. It’s a website and an app that focuses on healing trauma experiences through storytelling and therapeutic photography.
During the lockdown, we thought about this and invited both professional and amateur artists and writers to participate in the #lockdownart contest. To show that creativity and art can be protected even during difficult lockdowns, photographers had an opportunity to share photos from this period. It was also a way to escape the troubles and concentrate on artistic expression.
We wanted to discuss therapeutic photography and Phototherapy. This can help improve your quality of life. You can learn some techniques to help you see your hobby as a support tool.
Phototherapy and therapeutic photography. What is the difference?
Let’s begin with therapeutic photographs. This form of self-therapy involves taking photos, publishing them, discussing them, and reflecting on them.
Art therapy can also be applied to some therapeutic photography techniques, but not all. These include making collages out of photographs or going outside to find images reflective of your inner world. These actions are more self-expression than therapy and should not be guided by a therapist.
3-year-old research at Lancaster University found that stock photography and uploading images online can improve respondents’ quality of life in areas like socialization and self-care and the possibility for reminiscence. A second study showed that selfie-taking makes people happier than those who do not.
Phototherapy is another type of therapy that can only be done under the supervision and guidance of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist. It is used extensively in psychological rehabilitation and support groups. Phototherapy is a type of Phototherapy that involves patients taking pictures of things they cannot describe or that are too painful to discuss.
Which mental health issues can this free therapy improve?
Therapeutic photography is more accessible than other art therapy methods because it can be used to treat severe mental disorders. People with anxiety or depression may find it difficult to pick up paintbrushes. Photographing requires little effort or special skills. You need to be curious about the possibilities of this technique working for you.
If you have trouble with any of the following, photography and working with photos can help you or your friends.
Depression and Anxiety
— Traumatic experience
— Social Phobia
— Complex Phobias and Fears
— Lack of concentration and stress
These and other mental problems can be overcome by taking, posting and discussing photos. You may find it a way to express your creativity even when you don’t feel you have any.
A workflow involving a camera to capture pictures can have a meditative effect and calm the mind. Instagram allows for controlled communication from a safe distance. The second is the pleasure of creating something from nothing (the neurotransmitter Dopamine is released). It also helps us train our brains by growing new connections. Third, photos allow us to reflect upon difficult topics or unreachable (such as traumatic experiences).
The therapeutic use of photography is not limited to those with mental disorders. These practices can help prevent mental illness and improve your quality of life. Regular photography practice, for example, helps us to master our self-expression. This makes communication easier and increases our psychological resilience.
Five photography self-therapy tips to help you live a better lifestyle
You will need a camera, notebook, and social media accounts (optional). Comfortable clothing is recommended if you are going outside.
A qualified supervisor best does phototherapy. However, therapeutic photography can be used to improve your life every day. It is possible even if you don’t have the time or desire to start. Six activities can help your mental health.
— How to take pictures
— Editing photos
Reminiscing on old photos
— Showing images to other people
Discussion of photos
— Exchange feedback
These activities will help you see photography as a tool, not an art form, and you will reap the benefits. If you are interested in therapeutic photography, we have compiled a list to help you get started.
#1 Take photos to express your frustrations
Is it difficult to get rid of obsessive thoughts or a state of mind? Grab your phone or camera and take a photo of your current state. Try to make your therapeutic photo session flow like a stream and absorb all of your thoughts. You should find a visual metaphor for both the negative situation and its potential outcomes.
#2: Take selfies every day and share them with others
Self-portraits are a great way to boost self-esteem. This is especially true if you use a more artistic and creative approach to reflect your self-perception. Selfies can help us take better care and accept ourselves. They also allow us to get to know ourselves better. Selfies can help you explore your transformations over the long term. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn about yourself by taking a selfie every day for at least 2 weeks.
#3 Photograph negative and positive feelings towards objects
It is not common for people to be aware of why they are experiencing problems. Negative experiences are often suppressed by our brains, protecting us from traumatic memories. However, they can also be the root cause of complexes or phobias. Photographing objects that you feel an emotional connection with can help you recognize, accept, and neutralize these experiences. They are often connected to childhood.
#4 Use your last snaps to inspire stories
The One Project’s community increases the positive impact of photography through storytelling techniques. This is a powerful strategy indeed. Photography allows us to sublimate our experience and begin talking about it as an independent entity. Words allow us to recognize our emotions and find solutions. Today, take a photo as you walk down the street. Once you get home, you can write down what comes to your mind as you look at it.
#5 Make your photo map
Photography can be a great way to explore yourself. Invite family and friends to join you on a photo tour of your neighborhood or along a familiar route. You can take photos of all the things that interest you, then create a map of your route, noting which sections were most pleasant and what thoughts you had about each section.
No matter what level of creativity, professional or technical experience, therapeutic photography is accessible to anyone. You can boost all these aspects by dedicating at least ten to practice in which photography can become a healing tool. This is not about the destination. It’s a journey.
Sharing your photos with people you trust (friends, communities) is important for therapeutic photography. You can also describe your images in words while reflecting on your work. If you struggle to communicate your feelings and thoughts with words, this technique’s writing and reflecting aspects can prove very useful.