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Phototherapy, the use of photography as a therapeutic tool, is a field that involves active engagement in photography and working with photographs to encourage and facilitate psychological growth.
The uniqueness of using of photography as a significant and central tool in the therapeutic process can be seen in the emotional and experiential work that is possible with photographs, work in which both therapist and patient take part. Because the patient is able to intuitively select images and document them, they reflect his or her personal point of view and emotional state, reveal emotional content, and allow the patient to come into contact with various aspects of the experience.
Thanks to recent technological developments over the past years, photography has become widely accessible and available, and the language of photography has become familiar to everyone. At the same time, the use of photography is continuing to develop as a therapeutic channel and an aid to psychological treatment.
Photography is applied in the therapeutic process in a number of ways: the photographed images – whether the patient's own personal photographs (taken by the patient or by others) or those taken by strangers – are used as material for psychological projection, expressing deep-seated emotional content that can be processed in the therapeutic setting. Phototherapy also involves working with photographs from the patient's past, from collections of family photos or from family albums, as a means to raise emotional content and issues related to family relationships, such as intergenerational transference and the like. Active engagement in photography serves as a visual documentation and investigation into various issues of concern for patients, in relation to themselves and their environment.
The use of photography in the therapeutic process has many advantages:
Photography has great potential as a means to get in touch with one's internal reservoir of emotional content and memories, both conscious and unconscious. Photography allows patients to become familiar with the various parts of the self through working with the camera and with the photos they create.
Photography allows for creative expression, inspiring the patient to write and create visual art works, and even stimulates dramatic development and movement. Each of these creative activities helps to deepen the work with photography in its emotional context, which also contributes to psychological growth.
Photography allows for non-verbal communication, thus facilitating work with groups that have difficulty with communication and verbal expression, for various reasons.
Actively engaging in photography—which includes handling and operating the camera, and observing the surrounding world through the camera lens—can strengthen the patient's sense of confidence when encountering the world and confronting different emotional issues.
Phototherapy can address a wide variety of emotional problems and is suitable for a wide range of ages, from preschoolers to the elderly, who find this method beneficial for their particular emotional needs and appropriate to their developmental stage. Photography is used as a therapeutic tool in both individual and group therapy, as well as for both short-term workshops and long-term therapeutic processes.
Phototherapy practitioners are in demand in a variety of settings, such as: the field of mental health, special education, physical and mental rehabilitation, work with at-risk children and youth, treatment and rehabilitation of addictions, trauma care centers, parent-child centers, group facilitation, and more.

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