What is therapeutic photography? Not many people have heard about this. The more pertinent question would be, what is the role of photography as a therapeutic tool?
Let me start by discussing phototherapy, this is the use of photographs in therapy or counselling by a professional let’s say a psychiatrist or by groups of people in the peer to peer support systems. It’s more psychoanalytic in its approach.
So why is photography used as a form of therapy?
Photography in itself is powerful. There is always a narrative behind every single photo that is taken. This rings true especially when you sit down and review all the photographs that you have taken over time. It taps your memory and communicates to you the passage of time. So for people who suffer from various psychological issues like depression, a camera can be the best prescription.
The thing about photography is that if you are ever going to take pictures you will first have to learn how to use a decent camera.
Unless you are proficient, manoeuvring your way around a digital or analogue camera can be quite a challenge. Learning more about context, composition, lighting, angles and technique can be fulfilling.
The worst thing a person suffering from depression can have is a lot of idle time. So photography can be therapeutic in the sense that it will keep the mind busy. It can a creative outlet and also a form of treatment as opposed to taking medication. From meeting people, seeing exotic animals and viewing picturesque vistas. All in all, photography for many is very calming and soothing. It is a way to cope and in many instances has been a lifesaver for many youths caught in the harsh reality of urban environments.
People diagnosed with mental health problems can find photography therapeutic. For some, it helps with communicating what they feel. Through years of therapy and counselling, some patients attest that photography has helped to a large extent. So making something good out of a terrible situation is what photography does to these people.