Table of contents:

Phototherapy In Psychotherapeutic Work. How Can She Help? - The Quality Of Life
Phototherapy In Psychotherapeutic Work. How Can She Help? - The Quality Of Life

Video: Phototherapy In Psychotherapeutic Work. How Can She Help? - The Quality Of Life

Video: Phototherapy In Psychotherapeutic Work. How Can She Help? - The Quality Of Life
Video: How to use phototherapy | GE Healthcare 2023, December

When I first heard about a method called phototherapy, I realized that it was the future. Now this direction is only developing, but the interest in it both among the professional community and among advanced psychology amateurs is great. After all, we live in a world where visual images are of great importance. And it would be strange if photography sooner or later did not come to psychotherapy

Phototherapy is one of the methods of art therapy, used in the provision of psychological assistance, as well as for the development of personal potential. The main content of phototherapy is the creation and / or perception of photographs by a person. The origins of phototherapy can be found in the 1970s in the United States and Canada

Working with photography is used in individual counseling (with both adults and children) related to a problem situation, in family counseling, and also when working with a group. Topics and objectives vary, but phototherapy can be woven into any of them. She can solo or just be an element, one of many. And this is precisely its resource.


When I prepare for the first consultation, I always know the topic with which they want to contact me. If it is connected with a problematic relationship (partner, parents, children), I ask you to bring with you a photo of these people, as well as a photo where they are together.

An interesting story comes to mind: a woman came to me with problems in relations with a partner. There were a lot of grievances, expectations (which the partner did not even suspect, because it was assumed that he had to guess himself), and also … the constantly flashing image of his father. Difficult relations with the father, distrust of him, old resentments - all this was projected onto the new partner. In my work, I used two photographs and tracing paper. On tracing paper, I, having superimposed it on the photo of the client's father, depicted his schematic, but recognizable portrait. At a certain point in the consultation, when the client was again overwhelmed by indignation towards her partner, I laid out a photo of her man on the table in front of her, covered from above with a portrait of her father on tracing paper. I asked: "Who is this?" She was surprised because the visual stimulus was strong. This technique helped us to discuss whatthat hatred of a partner is "displaced" and for normalization of relations it is necessary to separate feelings for the father and for the male partner.

Sometimes clients bring a lot of photos, and viewing them becomes an additional resource for work. So, a client with problems in relationships with her mother brought her baby photos. I noticed how carefully the woman holds her little daughter in her arms, how tenderly she smiles at her (and not the camera). These photos helped my client to understand that she was not at all a “burden” for her mother since childhood, as she thought. And it was a small but important step towards the mother.

If you are on your way to see a psychologist and are asked to bring a photo with you, do not be surprised. The specialist will not "shaman", induce spells of eternal love or talk about "tambourine interest". And prefer the classic, paper-based version of your photos instead of images on your tablet or phone screen.


Sets of ready-made author's photographs, which can be called differently depending on their author, are also actively used in psychotherapy and psychological assistance. One of the most popular are the "spectrocard" of the Finnish psychotherapist, phototherapist Ulla Halkola. This is a set of photographic maps, each of which carries deep symbolic meaning. But not "given", but individual for each client.

Maps are used when working with a client if the figurative-associative approach is close to him. And the closer it is, the richer the possibilities for using spectrocards. They can be used to start a discussion of an issue, dive into its disturbing depths, and surface with a resource.

For example, a married couple of clients. Both are aware of the problems in marriage. And each of them is invited to choose from a set of spectro maps those that display the current state. The woman chooses the "knot", and the man chooses an image of a black tree without leaves against a blue sky. I try not to rush, chopping off my own stream of associations. The woman says that now it seems to her that the situation is similar to this knot - so much has accumulated that it will take a long time to untangle. A man is more positive: his tree is a spring photo, it will soon turn green, he perceives problems only as a stage, difficult, but necessarily passing. Hearing this, the woman also “blossoms”: she not only heard something encouraging from her husband, but also saw it in the image he chose. "And your knot, though not simple, but look how beautiful it is!" - says the husband. And it's truea bright blue knot from a ship's rope on old planks. Their communication becomes warmer, and, having received the task to find cards that correspond to the future of the relationship, each of them chooses something very positive.

Spectrum maps are a very promising method of psychotherapy. They give both the specialist and the client a means to use the language of metaphors, feelings. Contribute to overcoming internal defenses, and therefore reaching a new level. You may also be able to see them at group trainings on enhancing creativity, "understand yourself" and "be more effective."


Recently, the so-called “motivators” and “demotivators” have become very popular on entertainment portals. These are, as a rule, photographs with unexpected and funny captions. Looked, laughed - here's "self-therapy" for you! I chose one of them for the screensaver on the "desktop" - that's a powerful incentive. The main thing is to choose the right one so that it works for efficiency, and not vice versa. However, everyone presents efficiency and benefits in their own way. Therefore, everyone makes the choice of "motivator" himself.

Sometimes a psychologist, by correspondence with a client between consultations, can send him a link to a suitable, from his point of view, "motivator". This can have an additional effect on the entire psychological care process. Phototherapy is a little brick, but still!


Olga Alexandrova, practicing psychologist


In one of my rooms, there is a bright collage of photographs, made by myself. And I must say, he gives me a range of pleasant feelings, helps me to focus on goals, and inspires. Without exaggeration, phototherapy gives the ability to cognize the world and oneself in this world. When a person looks through his photographs, he answers to himself many questions that interest him: "Who am I?", "What am I?", "What role do I play?", "What group do I belong to?", "What kind of life do I live?" … When immersed in the analysis of your own photographic images, there is a real opportunity to reconsider the look at yourself, as it were, from the outside. This self-identification is like re-acquaintance with yourself. And if at such and such a moment something unpleasant in oneself is suddenly discovered, then it is worth thinking about it, reflecting on it, assessing whether it spoils life,and try to correct for the better. This is the path to awareness, self-understanding and inner growth that phototherapy can help.


As you know, psychologists like to give "homework". There are clients who are very reluctant to carry out an offer to draw something. But taking pictures is much easier. You may be tasked with taking a photo of something that conveys your mood. Also, finding that photo image that could be a resource for you, would help in working on a problem situation.

The very focus on such a search (both in the first and in the second case) includes a powerful internal process that helps to understand the problem deeper (“There is something missing here … and this image is too mournful”). There is an internal dialogue, but now it is significantly different from the mental grinding of "what would have happened if … (I had not made that mistake, I would have said something else, I would have ended up in a different place and at a different time)." Thus, a person more accurately determines the significance of the problem in his life, ceases to overly dramatize the situation. He can see, examine her, looking at the resulting picture. And this in itself helps to reduce internal stress. The search for a resource photo image gives new impulses to the search for non-standard solutions. After all, the photographic image is associated with the creative component of thinking.

Sometimes it is difficult to stop at one image, and then you can make a collage of several. This will display parts of the problem or miscellaneous resources.

By the way, this method can be used even if you do not plan to consult a psychologist - as self-therapy. You can take sequential photographs, for example once a week, that would display the current status in connection with a problem or task. This will visually help to imagine what was "before" and what is "now". And of course, to outline the prospects for the future by placing a positive image in front of your eyes.


Photo and text

On the basis of photographs or their series, the client is invited to compose his own story, a fairy tale, where there is a beginning and an end. Or it might just be a sensual sketch text that includes a palette of auditory, visual, somatic, and other phenomena.

Photo and dramatization

On the basis of the images of photographs in individual, and especially group work, one can create “living sculptures”, static, but at the same time changeable, showing the development of the situation.

Photo and dance

It is interesting to combine photo (static) and dance (dynamics). They mutually enrich each other and provide new opportunities for group psychotherapy.

Photo and drawing

A photograph, especially one printed on "plain" paper, provides many opportunities to finish drawing something on it. Photo and drawing are a powerful tandem.

Photo and music

For those who use music in therapeutic work, photography can be an interesting tool. You can choose from a variety of photographs that reflect the image of the music. And you can - and vice versa.


In phototherapy, when solving problems associated with personal changes, self-esteem, dissatisfaction with oneself, communication problems, photos of the client himself taken by other people can be used. It is interesting when photos are taken unexpectedly, although before that you need to ask relatives and friends to take pictures of you in different situations. Not only those, after which the photo can be sent to the contest “the most beautiful person”, but especially those that you cannot post on social networks later. Of course, it is better if the analysis of the footage is done together with a psychologist.

You can use your own pictures in which you will pose. They can be shot with the help of someone or on your own by putting the camera on the “self-timer”. For example, a person who is insecure can try to portray a confident person in such a photo shoot. Interestingly, the photographs can show aggression, anger, and arrogance - something that in its strong manifestations has nothing to do with confidence. Perhaps the person has already tried to enter the desired image before, but for some reason it did not work. Such a phototherapy session will help him to clearly understand the reasons, and also to choose from the images from the photographs the one that is really closest to the concept of “self-confident person”. It can become that "anchor", which is worth hanging in a conspicuous place, working on changes.


Photographic images have special strength and energy. And, most importantly, anyone can now be a photo artist. Photos keep our experiences, feelings, sometimes long forgotten. They can be conductors of unexpected ideas and insights. And even - the basis for psychotherapy. What is the end result for the photographer (the finished shot) is only the beginning in the phototherapy method, the starting point. When working with photography, all possible associations are activated, "visual messages" of the picture are received. With a snapshot, you can talk, ask questions and … get answers.