Photography has always been a powerful way of expressing human experiences and emotions therefore it can be very effective when working with trauma. The artistic expression of complicated emotions and painful memories can be healing. Through photography based therapeutic techniques we can promote healing and personal growth, calm the mind and provide stress relief, increase the understanding of oneself and others, build confidence and empowerment, develop a capacity of self-reflection, improve our relationships with family and others, reduce social exclusion, enrich intercultural relations, help to express experiences that are too difficult to put into words etc.
There are however two very distinctive branches of therapeutic photography, as Judy Weiser would put it, PhotoTherapy and Therapeutic Photography.
PhotoTherapy refers to five specific therapeutic techniques working with: the projective process, self portraits, photographs of oneself taken by others, photographs taken or collected by oneself and working with family albums and other autobiographical photos. With the purpose of supporting the other’s own personal discoveries while exploring and interacting with their personal and family snapshots through photo-stimulated questions and exercises.
Therapeutic Photography refers to photographic practices where the intended goal is to produce positive change in individuals, couples, or families but they also include broader Social Action Photography techniques where the goal is to create positive change at community, societal, national, or international levels. This does not mean only photo-taking. It also includes other photo-interactive activities, such as photo-viewing, -posing, -planning, -discussing, or even just only remembering or imagining photographs.