Therapeutic Photography: methods for promoting positive mental health and well being is a resource that provides information and shares learning and ideas on the use of photography as a tool for the support of people that experience mental distress. The focus is on the potential of photographic workshops to provide those living with mental illness with opportunities for personal development, enjoyment and creative expression, being with new people, learning new skills and developing confidence and self-esteem. PhotoVoice's work is premised on the transformative power of photography as a tool for communication and self-expression. The photographer, Edward Steichen, described photography as 'a major force in explaining man to man'. The potential when working with therapeutic photography lies not only in how we can use the camera to know ourselves better and to represent our impressions and experiences to each other, but also in the benefits it offers when people come together to learn new skills and offer each other support and appreciation.
Therapeutic Photography: methods for promoting positive mental health and well being is intended as a resource for arts practitioners, photographers, support workers and mental health service providers and users who are interested in using photography and initiating photography projects. It is the culmination of over ten years of experience of working with vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, together with the learning from two projects run jointly by PhotoVoice and disability charity United Response. It brings together project cases studies with frameworks and ideas for running your own project and aims to present an introductory overview of therapeutic photography methods.
Therapeutic photography involves a facilitated process where participants are supported to use photography as a tool for self-expression. This can be sensitive and profound work and the field of therapeutic photography is broad and under researched. This resource does not claim to be comprehensive and provides limited information for those working with people with in extreme states of mental distress. There is much work to be done to build knowledge and resources in this area – it is hoped this resource will serve as a start.