By: Christina Calderon
I can’t remember a time when photographs were not a part of my life. As a child my mother would make clothes for me and my two sisters, then dress us up and take our photo. It was something my friends looked forward to at sleepovers and one of my fondest memories of being young and having fun with my mother and sisters. These snippets of time are forever frozen in two dimensional realities. They remind me of the brevity of my emotions and how important art has been to me from early childhood. Photographs not only tell stories, but they document time, places, culture. They are windows to inner worlds and emotions.
The camera becomes a tool used to explore anything, and the photographer is then endowed with new insight to self and the world around them. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to take photography seriously as an art form and later still that I began to apply this medium to therapeutic processes related to mental health. There aren’t many books on the applications of photography in the world of expressive therapies, yet the possibilities of using this medium are boundless. Techniques can deepen and improve a client’s understanding of their relationship to emotions, people, or even addictions and trauma.
Like art therapy, photo therapy allows individuals to speak in ways that words alone cannot do. One of my favorite tasks in session is to ask my client to take the Polaroid camera outside, and take three to five photos that will tell me something, anything, about who they are or what they are feeling. The results are always profound.
Here are a couple of resources you can uses in your own exploration of photo therapy.
Exploring the Self through Photography: Activities for Use in Group Work
Book by Claire Craig