Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Photo Therapy

This is really just a subdivision of art therapy with the medium being photography. It can be used on its own as an exercise to do a sort of ‘inventory’ of the self. Or, it can be used as an adjunct to other therapies and CBT exercises.

One exercise is to use the following subjects (or your own ideas) to compose a autobiographical photo essay of about 6-12pictures. Another idea is to examine each subject individually, particularly in how you relate to it (what I mean is to not use the camera or the work as a way of separating yourself from your thoughts/feelings, but instead to use it as a way to add a new and different perspective. In other words, regard this as an exercise in mindfulness).

- A beautiful/memorable place
- Favourite colour, activity, texture, food…anything of which you have a favourite
- Life chart (home grew up in, schools attended…)
- Feelings (play, anger, depression, joy, sorrow, laughter, loss, hardness, softness, trust, sharing…)
- Future self (perceptions of growing old, how you would like to see yourself, aspirations)
- Your world (your view and interactions – your regular bus, the type of coffee you drink, the drawer at work where you hide all your candy)
- How the landscape effects you
- Portraits of people whom you admire
- Light, time, patterns
- Pictures of you doing pleasurable activities. This is especially beneficial if you include another person in the activity to take the photographs of you.

A twist on the project is that for photographs representing negative feelings or beliefs, use a program such as photoshop to create a positive image. As an added bonus, you will be learning a new skill (photo editing) or refining skills you already possess. This is something I believe is important in all therapies which, in my opinion, spend too much time focusing on the negative and too little time focusing on the positive and on change.


  1. I believe that what you are calling "phototherapy" above is really more a type of "therapeutic photography" -- you might want to explore these definitions a bit more, just for fun -- see this webpage (and the ones after it)

    where you will also learn about "Photo Art Therapy", and then realize that real PhotoTherapy is not just "a subdivision of art therapy with the medium being photography" -- but rather a much bigger field including areas where art therapy isn't even involved!