Since the beginning of my joint careers as social worker and photographer, I discovered that my photography evolved from a form of self-expression into a therapeutic aide that helped me lead others to find their self-expression. Most people keep photographs around without really thinking about it. Early on I discovered that everyone was eager to share their photographs with me. The photographs they shared not only gave me some factual information but they also gave me insight into the person's memories, thoughts, and feelings and self-perceptions. A person's collection of photographs is after all a form of self-portraiture. I naturally began to reminisce with some clients and soon realized that, in fact, I was doing a life review in some cases. Robert N. Butler, M.D., an early Gerontological Pioneer said that if life review is done successfully, it can give new significance and meaning to one's life.
I also discovered that I could use photography to help a clients model a new way of being and thinking about themselves. I took these photos of a woman who was on a psychiatric inpatient ward and encouraged her to pose in strength-based manner. I went back the next week with the image and asked her to talk about herself from a strength-based perspective.
Images are from the Marin County Section on Aging, the County of Marin's Peer Counseling Program, and a Sunday Salon at the Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA.
phototherapy workshops
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