Photography as therapy
It has long been recognised that the arts have potential healing and therapeutic effects. For many years I have used photography as personal therapy to help myself through some dark times in my life, when my camera, my dogs and walks were the main things keeping me sane. As a therapist, I’m interested in the increasing evidence base that supports anecdotal claims of the positive impact that photography and other creative arts and crafts can have on well being and mental health, and how I can use this to help my clients. I use photography within my therapy with clients either through one-to-one sessions or workshops, to help them feel better about themselves and improve their lives.
These are my top reasons for using photography as therapy:
You make time for something you enjoy
Make a date with yourself and do something you enjoy. Combine it with a walk in the country or the beach, if that’s what you like to do. Photography is something you can do by yourself or with others, and you don’t have to have expensive equipment – most phones have good quality cameras built-in!
The whole act of making something is therapeutic – whether it’s the taking of the photo, or the editing of it. You can also create albums – which can be homemade and beautiful works of art. You could journal about your photographs, either with an aim of sharing it or keeping it private. It also helps you to keep a record of the things that you love in life – whether it’s people, animals, places, flowers, pretty things, not so pretty things …….
There is a sense of accomplishment
When you have taken a photograph that you’re pleased with, you have a sense of pride. This is a great self-esteem boost!
It focuses your mind
Through the camera lens, we can let go of our preconceptions of our view of the world around us and actually “see” what is in front of us. Mindfulness in photography can lead to a greater awareness of our surroundings and of ourselves, and of our feelings about how we interact with our world. By focusing your mind on what you’re photographing, you can let go of your worries and anxieties. By learning about mindfulness in photography, this skill can be used in other areas of your life.
Learn to see yourself in a different way
My Positive Reflections workshops and one-to-one sessions involve exploring your inner qualities and core values that make you truly special, and then finish with a stunning photo-shoot. You’ll never compare yourself with the air-brushed front cover of a magazine again! Positive Reflections help you to improve your self-esteem and confidence by helping you to realise what real beauty is all about.
Link up your conscious and unconscious minds
Ok, bear with me, I’m a clinical hypnotherapist. Contemplative photography involves seeing your surroundings exactly as they are, without your own perceptions distorting your view. Mindfulness and contemplative photography are almost photographic meditations: what you “see” with your inner vision.
So, is it time to get your camera out and “see” the world around you in a new way?
About the author: Sue Stradling is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Photographer. Working with individuals and groups, she uses to photography as a method to help clients feel good about themselves, inside and out suestradling.com