What Does the Research Say?


Therapeutic Photography:

How It Helps People

The technique involves self-conducted and self-initiated photo-based activities, where a person or a group takes photos as a form of therapy. In such situations, there is no professional counsellor or therapist working with the person or persons in need of therapy. As such, no actual therapy session is involved; it is only the photos and the activity itself that provides the therapy. 

There are many reasons why photography can be an effective form of therapy. There are also several methods of doing this, especially since it can be considered a personal form of rehabilitation.

These are the top five reasons why photography can be an effective form of treatment.

  1. Photography gives us the opportunity to view the world objectively. It shows us images that depicts how we are really living, not the often-guarded thoughts we keep in our minds. Thus, we become mindful of the things around us and in what is happening, as opposed to what we think (and like to believe) are happening. Developing mindfulness in photography is therapeutic because it unmasks the realities we thought we knew.

2. Photography is a form of self-expression. It can effectively show a person’s true psychological state. It can also manifest a person’s genuine emotions. In other words, it allows a person to reach a better understanding of itself. This is therapeutic because it helps liberate a person from something previously misunderstood.

3. Photography allows us to see more deeply and pay more attention to what we hear, feel, think, and see. We learn to ask questions; these questions will often enlighten us about particular things we used to be worried or confused with. This is therapeutic because it enables people to enhance understanding and learning; which is also a way of healing.

4. Photography helps improve every day experiences. What used to be ordinary for you can change after you took a photo of it from a different angle. For example, a simple red rose can turn into a beautiful gift of nature after you captured it on camera while in bloom. Ordinary things become more special and meaningful. This is therapeutic because it gives an overall sense of happy and positive feeling.

5. Lastly, photography can help unleash artistic and creative skills. Take for example a child with Down syndrome or a person in a wheelchair, or someone who is hearing impaired. These people may find it difficult to express themselves verbally, but through their photos, they could communicate and express their thoughts and feelings fluently. Knowing that you are capable of doing something despite the challenges and setbacks is definitely therapeutic.

Self Portraits represent what makes us unique among all creatures on this planet. When you take your own Picture you are attempting to extract and depict who you are. You might do this for two basic reasons. To explore and better understand your self. To express yourself to others. In both cases, you are doing something very interesting. You are creating an objective representation of the subjective you. The self-portrait allows you to see yourself as others might see you. It allows others to see you as you see yourself or as you wish to be seen. John Suler

The Varieties of Self-Portrait Experiences

Set an Intention: Self Acceptance begins with intention, this intention acknowledges that self-loathing does not lead to a satisfying life.

Celebrate Your Strength: We are much better collectors of our shortcomings than our strengths. Making a list of your strengths can help you to recognize them and see them within yourself.

Consider people around you: Who around you speak negatively to you? Who reinforces negative self-talk? Why do you allow these people to hurt you?

Create a Support System: Distance yourself from people who bring you down and surround yourself with those who love and support you.

Forgive yourself: Past Regrets can prevent us from practising self-acceptance. Forgive yourself and move on.

Shush your Inner Critic: It’s not honesty or sincerity, it’s unwarranted and harsh judgement. Margarita Tartakovsky

12 Ways to Accept Yourself

"I didn’t need to see someone’s face to learn about their essence"

The Study of Self  Portrait – National Geographic

A selfie is an image of oneself produced with a smartphone or tablet. In the selfie, it’s more important how you appear than the artistic quality of the image.

A self-portrait is our inner image, our private image. It springs from the inner life of the author, who is also the subject and spectator. The self-portrait is a profound dialogue with oneself, guided by the author’s vulnerability.

The self-portrait experience is a method to explore yourself in every possible situation and thus to stimulate the creative process, to improve self-knowledge and self-esteem and thus empower yourself.

An individual self-portrait explores your emotions, essence, competencies or skills, character representation, body, places, self-portrait without me and roots. Cristina Nuñez

What is the Self-portrait Experience?

Self esteem is influenced by many variables while a person is developing his or hers self concept. Parents may provide a crucial role in the shaping of a child’s concept of him or herself. Thus,  the lack of confidence does not necessarily equal the lack of ability. It may just be a false set of beliefs that a person holds about him or herself. Friends or society can also powerfully influence a person’s concept of him or herself. For people with disabilities, parents, friends and society may have shaped your self-image in ways you wish to change. Ryan J. Voigt, MA

University of Wisconsin

There are two main reasons for a lack of self-esteem:

First, you have a poor self-image. The negative beliefs you hold about yourself obscure your high values. Second, you don’t know who you are. You don’t know where to look to find your true value, you look in the wrong places or you don’t look at all.

Negative beliefs come exclusively from negative experiences. When you have things that go wrong having high self-esteem is difficult. To feel good about yourself you must develop the skill of sorting through your self-image. What part of what you believe is true and what part is false. Matt Pavlik

Why Your Self Esteem Suffers

Do something every single day that makes you feel good. whether it is changing your thought patterns or taking a bath while reading a magazine in the tub.

Whatever it takes. Just do it. Be good to yourself. You will train others to do the same. Jennifer Pastiloff

Love Yourself, Accept Yourself, Forgive Yourself

Portrait therapy also enables people to develop a stronger, more coherent lived experience of self -identity, providing closure to difficult life experiences and improving their overall quality of life.
Susan M.D. Carr

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