Therapeutic Photography

Therapeutic Photography

Megan Ribbens
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5097-0.ch010
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As the child life profession extends beyond the hospital setting, new opportunities unfold to utilize the profession's strengths of empowering children and families through stressful life experiences. This chapter proposes that therapeutic photography is a fitting and effective tool to be used in any child life setting to promote well-being and describes Through Their Eyes, a child life practice centered on therapeutic photography in a non-traditional setting in South Africa. Differentiations are made between therapeutic photography and phototherapy and therapeutic photography is expounded. The underpinning framework of therapeutic photography with a child life scope of practice is outlined and the therapeutic photography program, Through Their Eyes, is explained. Outcomes give evidence of the ways therapeutic photography programs can connect us to ourselves and to each other, strengthening sense of self, relationships, and family function.
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Therapeutic Photography vs. PhotoTherapy

While one aspect of a CLS’s role is to develop and implement expressive, playful activities that are therapeutic in nature to promote healthy development and healing, it is important to distinguish that CLS do not do therapy. Similarly, therapeutic photography and therapy using photography are on opposite sides of a continuum and require important distinctions. PhotoTherapy, as defined by Judy Weiser, is a tool used by trained professionals in formal counseling settings that takes clients through “guided unconscious process work” (Gibson, 2018; Weiser, 2004, p. 35). PhotoTherapy in a counseling setting can include using photos taken by a client, photos taken of a client, self-portraits, family photographs, and “photo-projectives” which involve creating meaning out of taking or viewing photographs (Weiser, 2004). Therapeutic photography does not require a trained counselor or therapist, but it does require clearly defined outcomes for it to be considered therapeutic (Gibson, 2018; Weiser, 2004). These outcomes can promote change and growth at the individual, community, and broader social levels.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ubuntu: An African philosophy that emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity and way of living.

Attunement: Resonating with the inner world and needs of another person.

Phototherapy: A tool used by trained professionals in formal counseling settings.

Strengths Perspective: A framework of working with people that prioritizes personal and cultural strengths rather than problems or pathology.

Resilience: The capacity to bounce back after setbacks and challenges.

Self-Esteem: Feeling good about oneself and believing you can achieve what you set out to do.

Self-Efficacy: The ability to make and produce things.

Empowerment: The act of helping others to know they are capable and competent to achieve their goals.

Continuous Trauma: Trauma associated with living in communities of high levels violence, repeated exposure to violence, and where the person recovering lives with the same on-going threat.

Therapeutic Photography: A technique or tool used to promote reflection and that does not require a trained counselor or therapist, but does require clearly defined outcomes to increase self-esteem, self-efficacy, and empowerment.

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