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(ENGLISH BELOW)

fototerapia_lisco1

La diffusione capillare dei social network e di strumenti digitali nell’era della connettività permanente (De Kerckhove D., 2014) contribuisce ad incrementare notevolmente la produzione e la condivisione di fotografie, filmati e documenti multimediali.

All’interno di questo scenario, le arti terapie possono prevedere l’utilizzo di strumenti digitali multimediali in vari contesti di intervento e progettazione.

Per foto-video terapia si intende la disciplina e il campo di studio che utilizza la fotografia e il video come mediatore artistico nelle terapie espressive e nell’arte terapia.

Ma come è possibile utilizzare i processi di produzione di immagini e le immagini stesse all’interno di un setting di arte terapia?

Nel lavoro con la fotografia e il video sono le immagini, le modalità e il processo di produzione di esse che diventano il pre-testo per favorire conoscenza, consapevolezza e responsabilità dei propri modi di essere nel mondo.

Il livello di approfondimento delle dinamiche interne della persona oltre all’ambito di intervento e alla natura della relazione fra operatore e cliente permettono al lavoro con le immagini di rientrare nei confini della psicoterapia, del counseling espressivo o dell’arte terapia.

Le potenzialità dello strumento sono molteplici e le forme variano secondo il contesto di intervento, le caratteristiche dell’utenza e la formazione del conduttore che può esser un arte terapeuta, uno psicoterapeuta oppure un operatore/educatore con competenze specifiche in arte terapia.

La creazione di foto-racconti in gruppo, di cortometraggi o di prodotti multimediali può divenire un’esperienza che favorisce processi di co-costruzione e creazione in gruppo, facilita la condivisione di narrazioni ed esperienze, stimola il pensiero creativo e potenzia lo spirito di appartenenza attraverso un lavoro di squadra.

Per esplorare l’intenzionalità dello sguardo e di ciò che si sceglie di rappresentare e vedere in un disegno, in un quadro, in una fotografia o in un video occorre muoversi verso l’esplorazione delle sensazioni e dell’effetto che fa la percezione dell’oggetto stesso.

Così come Brentano differenziava l’effetto primario (oggetto/fenomeno) dall’effetto secondario (effetto percettivo/emotivo dell’oggetto/fenomeno stesso) (Brentano, F., 1997), nell’incontro terapeutico a mediazione artistica è evidente come l’interesse nella relazione sia rivolto verso la condivisione e l’espressione sensoriale ed emozionale del fenomeno percepito.

La percezione organizza i dati sensoriali in base anche ai bisogni dell’organismo e in questo afferma la propria intenzionalità.

Percepire rimanda quindi a una forma strutturata in cui c’è spazio per la soggettività dell’organismo: il soggetto non solo vede e sente ma orienta attivamente la sua scelta del sentire e del vedere in relazione alla soddisfazione di alcuni bisogni.

La Gestalt (dal tedesco forma) è una forma strutturata, completa e con un senso per noi.

La percezione risponde ad alcune leggi che la guidano e la strutturano e non è costituita dalla semplice somma degli stimoli e dei dati sensoriali percepiti.

Percezione e fenomenologia contengono i concetti di intenzionalità, scelta e responsabilità.

Di fronte al mondo possiamo recuperare la nostra potenzialità e creatività, lavorando direttamente sulla nostra percezione del mondo, sul come oltre che su cosa vediamo, sull’effetto della nostra percezione oltre che sul perché avviene in un determinato modo.

L’attenzione è posta su quello che si sente perché è il sentire che dà senso e rivela l’intenzione di chi sente.

La parola intenzione rimanda ad in-tensione: la persona si muove alla ricerca di qualcosa, struttura i dati dell’ambiente in una forma che possa garantirgli di soddisfare alcuni bisogni ed è il dialogo su cosa cerca e come lo cerca che costituisce parte dell’esplorazione terapeutica.

Edgar Rubin elaborò il concetto di relazione figura/sfondo, marcando l’attenzione sul fatto che ogni fenomeno è inserito in un campo ed è situato in un contesto che gli fa da sfondo.

Così come non può esistere una figura senza uno sfondo e viceversa, non può esserci un comportamento o un’emozione senza un contesto di riferimento.

Lo sfondo che può esser visto come l’inconscio gestaltico è il luogo dello “sconosciuto” e anche il luogo dell’ombra, del nascosto che la luce della consapevolezza e dell’attenzione possono illuminare, rendere visibile.

La dinamicità del processo figura/sfondo ci permette di vivere in equilibrio e in contatto con i nostri bisogni e con le spinte che il nostro organismo ci fornisce verso il mondo.

Per Merleau Ponty la percezione è espressione: percependo, l’individuo dà senso al mondo.

La percezione è intenzionale e riprendendo il pensiero di Brentano possiamo individuare come all’interno di un lavoro con le immagini, il terapeuta e il paziente possano muoversi verso l’esplorazione del fenomeno psichico associato all’oggetto fisico secondo diversi livelli di profondità a seconda del contesto e degli obiettivi dell’intervento.

La percezione non è una riproduzione fedele della realtà bensì è una rappresentazione, una traccia della realtà.

E’ possibile pertanto lavorare con le immagini intendendole come prodotti intenzionati in cui la persona sceglie di vedere o mettere quello che vuole in primo piano secondo diversi livelli di consapevolezza e coscienza.

Alcuni esempi di lavoro integrato tra foto-video terapia e arte terapiafototerapia_lisco2

Il Racconto per immagini

Ascoltare le emozioni e i pensieri del qui e ora e creare un prodotto di gruppo con disegni, colori e fotografie scattate dagli utenti del laboratorio.

E’ questa la consegna che si rivolge al gruppo, dopo una prima fase di lavoro di accoglienza e riscaldamento.

Gli utenti sono liberi di fotografare quello che vogliono e che maggiormente rappresenta il loro stato d’animo, favorendo la comunicazione e lo scambio fra aspetti analogici e digitali dell’esperienza.

Analogico contiene il mondo della fantasia, della metafora, del “come se” e del non verbale mentre digitale fa riferimento alla razionalità, al pensiero logico, al verbale.

L’obiettivo è realizzare un prodotto comune, un racconto per immagini frutto dell’integrazione e della condivisione di emozioni e di pensieri individuali attraverso la trasformazione creativa e artistica in immagini, segni, disegni e tracce colorate ed “emozionate”.

L’utilizzo di colori, pennelli e altri materiali dell’arte terapia plastico-pittorica accanto alle fotografie stampate ha come obiettivo quello di favorire l’integrazione dei linguaggi e degli strumenti delle arti terapie.

Il prodotto finale realizzato su cartellone contiene i contributi creativi di ognuno, il risultato finale è più della somma delle singole parti e diviene un prodotto comune in cui ciascuno può ritrovare e riconoscere il proprio tratto, la propria parte di fotografia, il proprio contributo grafico e pittorico: il proprio modo di stare nel lavoro di gruppo.

A seguire, dopo una fase di osservazione e ascolto cognitivo ed emotivo del racconto realizzato, ogni partecipante può liberamente condividere la propria esperienza con il resto del gruppo e sperimentare così un momento di ulteriore integrazione e condivisione.

Attraverso il feedback, a fine lavoro, la persona può rendere consapevoli alcuni ponti e legami fra il mondo analogico, contenuto nelle metafore condensate nella fotografia e nelle forme grafiche e pittoriche, e il mondo digitale, i pensieri e le razionalizzazioni ad esse associati.

L’esperienza del “racconto per immagini” può realizzarsi secondo diversi moduli e diverse fasi all’interno di un percorso clinico, educativo o formativo.

Le fasi principali di lavoro seguono il seguente percorso:

  • Fase di accoglienza e riscaldamento
  • Produzione delle fotografie associate a pensieri e/o emozioni del qui e ora
  • Scelta in gruppo del soggetto e della tema del racconto partendo dalle immagini realizzate
  • Realizzazione in gruppo del racconto per immagini utilizzando diversi strumenti delle arti terapie
  • Osservazione del lavoro e condivisione spontanea dei feedback

Il Video partecipativo: l’esperienza del cortometraggio.

All’interno delle attività riabilitative per utenti di una comunità residenziale per pazienti psichiatrici abbiamo scelto di lavorare con le immagini adottando la metodologia del video partecipativo.

Un lavoro analogo è stato svolto all’interno di progetti scolastici per studenti delle scuole di secondo grado, all’interno di laboratori creativi per adolescenti di centri aggregativi giovanili oppure per progetti di formazione aziendale focalizzati sul teambuilding e rivolti a dipendenti e manager.

La proposta è di lavorare per realizzare assieme un breve filmato, un cortometraggio che veda gli utenti stessi del laboratorio come attori, sceneggiatori, registi, operatori, ciakkisti e costumisti.

Si tratta di creare un’equipe di lavoro finalizzata alla scrittura del soggetto della sceneggiatura e alla realizzazione delle riprese per il cortometraggio.

Questo lavoro rientra nella metodologia del video partecipativo, un’attività socio-terapeutica centrata sul gruppo e la cooperazione e impostata come fosse un gioco di ruolo, dove il lavoro su di sé avviene in parallelo con il processo di costruzione del prodotto finale.

Tali sono gli obiettivi terapeutici del lavoro con il video nei gruppi (Shaw e Robertson, 1998):

  • E’ uno strumento per il lavoro di crescita personale
  • E’ centrato sul gruppo e promuove la cooperazione
  • Si basa sull’esperienza dei partecipanti, sui loro bisogni e idee
  • Stimola l’espressione della creatività
  • Sviluppa la sicurezza e la stima di sé
  • Genera l’interazione e la discussione
  • Costruisce l’identità e la coesione di gruppo
  • Accresce la consapevolezza e l’attività critica
  • Fornisce i mezzi per comunicare con gli altri
  • Coltiva le capacità e il potenziale dei partecipanti
  • Sviluppa le abilità di pianificazione e di decisione
  • Conferisce il controllo e le responsabilità ai partecipanti
  • Incoraggia la determinazione nel raggiungimento degli scopi
  • Facilita l’empowerment

Nel video partecipativo gli utenti diventano diretti autori della propria libertà espressiva e hanno la possibilità di usare la telecamera e le attrezzature tecniche di un gruppo video per fornire il proprio sguardo sul mondo.

Ogni utente può rivestire a turno i diversi ruoli tecnici necessari per la creazione del cortometraggio e in tal modo può fare esperienza delle proprie capacità e modi di stare nel gruppo.

Il cortometraggio e il lavoro di gruppo diventano l’interfaccia con cui relazionarsi con gli utenti.

Attraverso la metafora del cortometraggio e dell’equipe tecnica amatoriale gli utenti possono rivestire i panni delle diverse figure e così sperimentare atteggiamenti, empatia, stili di leadership e ruoli che sono spesso lontani dalla loro esperienza di vita.

“La trama del soggetto e della sceneggiatura diviene metafora dei copioni di vita dei partecipanti; la costruzione dei personaggi diviene possibilità di lavoro sul vissuto del proprio ruolo relazionale, alludendo alle dinamiche interne dei partecipanti senza toccarle direttamente. La fase di realizzazione vera e propria (produzione e post-produzione) offre ampie possibilità nel qui e ora del processo creativo di sviluppo delle competenze sociali, relazionali e collaborative” (Rossi, O., Botticelli, K., Cardamomi, D., Rubechini, S., 2004)

Il lavoro per la creazione di un video segue le seguenti fasi:

  • Brainstorming e scelta del soggetto
  • Scrittura della sceneggiatura e dello storyboard
  • Individuazione degli attori e compilazione dell’organigramma
  • Pianificazione e realizzazione delle riprese e dei lavori associati
  • Montaggio e post-produzione finale
  • Visione del cortometraggio

Poiché “la creatività non è una dote, che qualcuno ha e qualcuno no, non dipende dalla personalità del soggetto: è piuttosto una situazione in cui ognuno si può mettere o non mettere” (Quattrini, 2007) nel momento in cui il contesto del laboratorio è percepito come accogliente ed interessante i partecipanti scelgono di mettersi in gioco, di proporre idee per la sceneggiatura e di contribuire attivamente ai lavori del gruppo.

La creatività diventa un’esperienza che gli utenti vivono nei diversi ruoli della troupe amatoriale cinematografica.

Bruno Callieri, psichiatra, grande maestro e studioso della psicopatologia fenomenologica, a proposito di narrazione e identità in un suo articolo ha scritto: “Nel corso della vita, non facciamo altro che raccontare noi stessi attraverso storie che rappresentano dei veri e propri atti narrativi in quanto frutto di operazioni attive di organizzazione ed elaborazione dei diversi episodi che riteniamo più importanti per la nostra vita…noi non siamo altro che la storia che raccontiamo di noi stessi e la nostra identità narrativa si costituisce mediante la nostra storia” (Callieri, B.,1999-2000).

Bibliografia

Berman L., La fototerapia in psicologia clinica, Erickson, Trento, 1996.

Brentano, F., La psicologia dal punto di vista empirico, Laterza, Bari, 1997.

Callieri, B., Dall’anamnesi al racconto: analisi esistenziale e/o analisi narrativa?, Informazione psicologia psicoterapia psichiatria, vol. 38-39, pp.2-9, 1999-2000.

De Kerckhove D., Psicotecnologie connettive. Meet the media guru, Egea, 2014.

Giusti, E., Videoterapia. Sovera Editore, Roma, 1999.

Lisco G., Miletic G., Giovani adolescenti rom alla prima esperienza con il video, Artiterapie – inserto Videoterapia – supplemento del n.9/10 – Editore Associazione Europea per le Arti Terapie – 2005

Manghi, D., Vedere se stessi. La psicoterapia mediata dal video, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2003.

Merleau Ponty, M., Fenomenologia della percezione, Bompiani, 2003.

Quattrini P., Fenomenologia dell’esperienza, Zephiro Ed., 2007.

Rossi, O., Lo sguardo e l’azione. Il video e la fotografia in psicoterapia e nel counseling, EUR, 2009

Shaw e Robertson, Il videotape. L’uso partecipativo in educazione e riabilitazione, Centro Studi Erickson, 1998.

Weiser J., Tecniche di FotoTerapia nel counselling e nella terapia: usare le foto comuni e le interazioni con le fotografie per aiutare i clienti a prendersi cura delle proprie vite (“PhotoTherapy Techniques in Counseling and Therapy: Using photos, and interactions with them, to help clients heal their lives”, translation by Dr. Carmine Parrella and Dr. Matteo Paganelli), Informazione: Psicoterapia, Counselling e Fenomenologia, Vol.7, Sept-Oct, 120-147, 2006.

 

ENGLISH

Working with images in Art Therapy: photographs and videos as tools for exploration, change and personal growth.

The use of images, photographs and audiovisuals in art therapy sessions opens new spaces of intersection and exchange between the different art therapy disciplines.

An intervention with photography and video in art therapy involves interactions and convergences mainly with techniques and tools of art therapy and drama therapy.

In working with photos and videos, the images, the methods and the process of production of them can foster knowledge, awareness and responsibility for personal way of being in the world.

But how can image production processes be used within an art therapy session?

What is therapeutic in using a photograph or a sequence of moving images?

Is it the instrument itself that allows us to get in touch directly and immediately with the existential world of the other or is it the relationship that takes care, the relationship mediated by the artistic instrument?

A drawing, a painting, a photograph and their use in therapy are not therapeutic in themselves.

There are many applications of these tools according to the intervention context, the characteristics of the user and the training of the conductor that can be an art therapist, a psychologist, a psychotherapist, an educator or a social worker with specific skills in art therapy.

The level of analysis of the psychological state of the person as well as the objectives of the intervention and the nature of the relationship between operator and customer can set the work with images within the boundaries of psychotherapy, counselling or art therapy.

The creation of photo-stories in the group, short films or multimedia products can become an experience that promotes processes of co-construction and creation in the group, facilitates the sharing of stories and experiences, stimulate creative thinking and enhances the sense of belonging through a team work.

Art therapy, from a theoretical point of view, conceives the artistic instrument as a modulator of the relationship and not as a simple tool for expressing creativity.

The relationship between client and art therapist is modulated by the artistic mediator. This means that the product that is being created together with the client represents an interface with which to relate and compare.

The interest of the art therapist is on the creation process, on the formal qualities of the product, on how the person has worked and on what this experience has produced in existential terms.

The phenomenology of perception and the dynamism of  figure-ground perception in working with images in art therapy.

To explore the intentionality of the gaze and of what one chooses to represent and see in a drawing, in a painting, in a photograph or in a video it is necessary to move towards the exploration of the sensations and of the effect that makes the perception of the object itself on the person.

Perception is the process that organize sensory data according to the needs of the organism and also in this seems to affirm its intentionality.

Perceiving therefore refers to a structured form in which there is space for the subjectivity of the organism: the subject not only watches but actively directs his choice of feeling and seeing in relation to the satisfaction of certain needs.

The perceived Gestalt (a German word for form or shape) is a structured, complete and meaningful form for us.

Perception responds to some laws that guide and structure it and is not constituted by the simple sum of perceived stimuli and sensory data.

We can recover our health and creativity also working directly on our perception, on how, besides what we see, on the effect of our perception as well as on why it develops in a certain way.

Just as a figure cannot exist without a background, a behavior and an emotion cannot exist without a reference context.

The background that can be seen as the unconscious mind is the place of the “unknown” and also the place of the shadow, of the hidden that awareness and focused-attention can light up.

For the French philosopher Merleau Ponty perception is an act of expression: in the act of perceiving the person gives meaning to the world.

What we perceive is not a faithful reproduction of reality but its representation, a trace of reality itself.

Perception is a constructive and creative act, and the reality is not known by induction or deduction, but is organized.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The perception of a phenomenon is set in a defined field, in an environment that shapes it and makes it “ecological”.

In art therapy the concept of figure-ground perception provides many ideas and suggestions for thoughts, interventions and actions. A figure can be identified from the background and so for a person it can be in  what he does not say, in what he is not aware of at the moment, in what hides us, in what he does not see and does not want to see.

Working with a photo and its description we can choose where to start, from which detail of the photo to start for the narration. In this way we are choosing, at the same time, what to put in the foreground and in the background.

The French philosopher Merleau Ponty claimed:

“In the vision I support my gaze on a fragment of the landscape: it comes alive and unfolds, the other objects withdraw into the margin and enter hibernation, but do not cease to be there.” ( Merleau Ponty , 2003 )

The vision thus turns out to be “a two-sided act”: to see an object I have to put all the others in the background, to make them horizon.

“The invisible is the internal plot of the visible” (Merleau Ponty , 2007 )

Perception is therefore a process of expression: perceiving  the person gives meaning to the world, to his perceived world.

The therapist and the client look at the images and go back to the intention joined to the perception: the intention of what the person chooses to look at becomes knowable through the intersubjective relationship and the experience of seeing and feeling.

The word intention refers to in (on-going) – tension: people move to search for something; they organize the data of the environment into a form that can be useful to meet some psychological, emotional and cognitive needs.

So Art therapist and client can move towards the exploration of the psychic phenomenon associated with the physical object according to different levels of dialogue and deepening depending also on the objectives of the intervention and on the training of the therapist.

PhotoTherapy and purpose of the  intervention

Judy Weiser[1] contributed with her clinical and theoretical commitment to the dissemination and recognition of the phototherapy techniques in the world.

J.Weiser considers PhotoTherapy and Therapeutic Photography at the extremes of a continuum. On the one hand, there is PhotoTherapy, where a therapist guides the activities during a therapeutic process with clients (photography in therapy) and on the other hand is Therapeutic Photography in which photography as therapy provides activities organized by a person or a group without the aid necessarily of a therapist or a mental health professional.

A further distinction theorized by J.Weiser is between Therapeutic Photography which provides photo-based therapeutic/healing activities that anyone can do for themselves or in projects with others for the purpose of individual self-improvement and Social Action Photography projects whose goals are to use very similar photo-based activities but in group activities aimed at creating improvements in communities and society in general.

The use of photography in art therapy allows you to work with the image produced or selected by the client and with its production process (framing, choice of subject, etc.).

Photography contains a trace of the existence of the person, represents a moment and remains physically fixed and motionless. However a movement made of memories, sensations, thoughts and emotions can start from the static elements of the images.

Phototherapy works especially on the perceptual process of the person to help make sense to the life experiences even in the here and now of the session.

In front of the same photo we can reveal, in a group setting, how each person perceives different sensations and constructs representations of the same portion of reality that are completely different from one another.

Depending on the objectives and aims of the intervention we can choose certain techniques as flexible tools to achieve certain objectives.

It is possible to talk about photo-art therapy interventions when working techniques with photographic images are combined with the methods and techniques of art therapy.

It is good to remember that the work with the projective process that characterizes phototherapy must consider the personal training for operators on the phototherapy techniques and also the coordination and teamwork, especially in clinical settings, with psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.

It is therefore necessary, as for all art therapy interventions, to carefully define the clients , the setting, the objectives, the tools and the techniques of the intervention.

Exercises and applications of work with photographs and images

  • Picture Photo-Art Story

Ask the group or a person to make a work of art made up of drawings and photographs taken by the person and/or coming from their own personal album.

The work can be thematic with a theme chosen by the person or group or suggested by the therapist within a specific intervention project.

It’s a way to facilitate contact with experiences of representation, sharing and transformation in analogy with the process of production and integration of photographs and images within a collective or individual work.

Photographs can be taken during the session and printed at the time or they can be selected by the client before the session.

The creative process of the Picture Photo-Art Story is strongly influenced by the ways in which the photographs were produced.

Selecting photographs from your own album or taking photos for the work itself trigger very different work and research processes.

Working with personal photos it is evident the connection with significant moments of their own history and any autobiographical detail impressed in the selected picture. Also working with the photos shooted by the person can come to the foreground a sensation, a thought, an emotion that the person wanted to capture, stop and represent through the picture.

The client can modify the photo, cut it, paste it and choose how to integrate it into the composition using colors, glue and anything else included in the tool box provided by the therapist.

The Picture Photo-Art Story can be realized with photos already shooted by the client and in this case it is good to photograph them, photocopy or reprint them so that they can be transformed and reused freely.

  • Photo Story on Paper and Digital Photo Story

The client is asked to create a photo story on paper with photographs selected from his own album or other sources.

Clients can put together their photos to structure a narrative sequence, a story about themselves through the photos.  On the paper used for the work they can fill the space between the photos with captions, dialogues, drawings and graphic elements that facilitate emotional, relational and cognitive connections between the different parts of the story and the different parts of themselves involved in the story.

The Photo Story on Paper is a story of the person through the pictures, a borderline work between art therapy, photo-videotherapy and drama therapy.

In group the client can also work with photographs produced during role-playing activities or drama performance and choose to insert them in the narrative sequence of the photo story.

There is a beginning and an end of the story, an action that starts from one click and connects to other photos according to the creative style of the person.

In a different way,  it is possible to work to create a Digital Photo Story in which the images and the photos together with sound elements (background music, narrative voices and ambient sounds) are placed on the timeline of the video editing software.

The Digital Photo Story is a short movie made up of photographs that flow on the screen according to a specific narrative sequence and therefore presents similarities with projects of videotherapy and participatory video.

The Digital Photo Story is a short movie composed of photos that flow on the screen according to a specific narrative sequence and therefore presents many similarities with projects of videotherapy, therapeutic filmmaking and participatory video.

  • Exercises with Active Photography and Partecipatory Photography

For Active Photography and Participatory Photography I refer to experiences in which people have at their disposal the camera to take photographs according to the objectives of the intervention.

It is not about working with photographs taken by others, coming from your own personal album or from magazines, websites or other sources.

In Active Photography, the person chooses what and how to photograph, what and how to express through a photographic shot.

For Participatory Photography I mean the process of creating photographs in which other people are also protagonists, besides the photographer, within a group project.

The choice of shooting can become an experience of collective creation in which everyone can take on also the role of the actor or the helper of the photographer who still remains the author of his shot.

The Participatory Photography can thus be transformed into a social tool to promote individual and community change.

Although the boundaries between Active and Participative Photography are fluid, the major distinction that can help to distinguish them as experiences is in the individual or group focus of the experience itself and in the forms of the process that led the person to take that particular photograph.

The client takes the picture, actively participates in its creation and production and after begins his work with printed photography.

The printed photo can be placed in an individual composition or in an artwork in which the person can choose to combine graphic elements with the aim of favoring an analogical description of the emotion, thoughts or theme associated to the photos shooted.

  • Photo Collage

Photo Collage is a way to make a story, give life to a meaningful form with photos through the collage technique.

This activity can be carried out individually or as a group work. The work starts from the choice of photos that can be taken by the client or selected from a personal album or any other sources. Photo Collage may also include the selection and cutting of images from magazines, newspapers or other paper materials.

Putting together pieces of images to give life to a new Gestalt, a new form is a metaphor of transformation, change and re-signification of one’s way of being in contact with the perceived world.

  • Photographic self-portrait

Self-portrait work represents an experience that fosters awareness and knowledge of one’s own ways of representing and narrating oneself.

If we consider identity as a process that takes place over time we can understand how the self-portrait can become a creative product that talks about how people look and talk at themselves in a particular moment of their life.

Photography can concern parts of the body, materials, animals, plants and any part of perceived reality that is meaningful for the client.

To create the self-portrait, the customer can choose to pose, ask others to take the picture or take it individually with the self-timer.

It is important that the client has complete control of the shooting even if the photograph was taken by another person.

In these cases the group can become a precious resource to help the person to make his own self-portrait and to experience sharing and collaboration.

In the work with the self-portraits one of the main purposes is to experiment how the perception of self and self-representation are processes in continuous becoming to live and feel also through the different work experiences that can start from the self-portrait photographic experience.

It is possible to continue the work by asking the person to draw a self-portrait starting from the photographic one or asking to give life to a short theatre performance that speaks of itself through the language of theater, body movement and dramatization.

Within the different phases of this process the therapist can observe the behavior of the person, the emotions that he manifests and the overall quality of the experience.

The considerations, the observations of the therapist and the group can support and integrate the autobiographical elements that emerge from the person during the verbalization phase.

In this way, working with the photographic self-portrait can also empower the sense of belonging and teamwork.

Anyway it is useful to consider the following aspects in the work with the photographic self-portrait:

  • Is the author’s face or parts of his body present in the photograph? If so, what guided the choice of the subject? If not, what or who is in its place?
  • What is in the foreground and what is in the background of the photo?
  • What does the person feel and think looking at the photo?
  • Living sculptures

With the exercise of Living Sculptures we can ask to produce photos to express emotions and thought through the use of the body.

It is important that the person shoot the photo with the intention to communicate and tell something meaningful and important for himself without using words.

Living sculptures can be an icebreaker exercise to get over embarrassment in group with experience of play, movement and dramatization.

The author of the photo also becomes the director of the photographic set, the coordinator and the leader of the group so that it’s a good exercise to deal with leadership, effective communication, problem solving, decision making and teamwork.

Exercises and applications of work with videos and movies for individuals and groups

Videotherapy stand for the discipline that studies and applies the techniques of working with videos and movies in therapy or clinical setting.

We can imagine a continuum similar to that between Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography if we distinguish Videotherapy from Participatory Video/Cinema and Therapeutic Filmmaking.

Therefore we can work with videos produced by the client in art therapy or psychotherapy sessions and consider this Videotherapy (the video in therapy). Instead for example we can work with videos in soft skills training intervention for companies or use movies as effective tool to empower community well-being. In these cases we should consider the video as therapy and so define that as an the intervention of Therapeutic Filmmaking or Participatory Video rather than Videotherapy.

To distinguish one type of intervention from the other it is also useful differentiate interventions with the video within therapeutic processes from interventions in other contexts without clinical objectives.

Some working techniques with movies can be transversal to the different kind of interventions. But it is very important to define what are the boundaries between a clinical-therapeutic intervention with the video and an educational or training project that uses video as an artistic mediator.

The adjective therapeutic, such as for Therapeutic Filmmaking or Therapeutic Photography, refers to a process of change facilitated by the work with images that does not necessarily have to happen in a clinical or psychotherapeutic setting.

  • Video-portrait

Making a short movie as a video-portrait.

People can choose to be filmed or not and can make a short movie in which they are working both on a narrative level of themselves and a performative/theatrical level.

Through the work with the video-portrait people rework and transform their self perception using the resources present in the context (spaces, people and materials) to construct a story that represents and describes themselves.

It is important to consider the following elements in working with the video portrait:

– What does the person want to communicate with the video-portrait?

– Where is the author of the video-portrait and how he act in the movie?

– Which parts of themselves seem to go in the background in the video-portrait?

– How much is satisfied the person in reviewing his video-portrait? And what makes the person happy, sad or proud?

Working on the creation of a video portrait allows you to experience the limit of time and the consequences of any choice that inevitably contains also a waiver.

–          Digital Photo Slideshow

Producing a slideshow of one or more minutes with the photos shooted by the client or the group, making a movie in which it is possible to insert narrative voices, soundtracks and digital and visual effects.

The theme of the slideshow can be chosen by the participants or can be suggested by the therapist, depending also on the context of the intervention and its specific objectives.

It is necessary to provide the following division of roles and responsibilities to experience the Digital Photo Slideshow activity in group:

Photographer – it is recommended that each person in the group has a chance to experience this role

Storyboarder – Create the storyboard as the sequence of the photographs displayed in the video

Sound Editor – Responsible for editing the sound effects in the soundtrack.

Visual effects editor – Chooses transitions and effects between one photo and another

Film Editor – Link video and audio channels of the movie and produces the final video.

Generally for this type of activity the work phases are:

–  Writing and choosing the theme and the subject of the slideshow

–  Production of photographs and choice of locations where to take pictures

–  Choice of visual and sound effects including texts on images

– Participatory editing of the slideshow

– Projection of the slideshow and feedback

– Participatory Video: the short movie experience.

The proposal is to work together to make a short film in which people are actors, screenwriters, directors, operators, clapper person, costume designers.

A film crew working from the writing of the script’s subject to the shooting for the short movie.

This work is part of the participative video methodology, a social-therapeutic activity focused on cooperation and group process and set up as a live action role-playing game. The therapeutic work on oneself takes place in parallel with the production of the movie.

The video can be the final product of a project of intervention from a minimum of 10/15 sessions of 2 hours aimed at the realization of a 5/10 minutes short movie.

Otherwise, the same methodology can be used for shorter projects, intensive workshop of 8 hours or even less in which the work phases are restricted and the final product must have a duration appropriate to the time available: between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

In participatory video users become direct authors of their expressive freedom and have the opportunity to use the camera and the technical equipment of an amateur film crew to present their personal view of the world.

Every member of the group can take turns in the technical roles of the film crew and in this way can experience different skills and ways of being in the group.

Through the metaphor of the short movie and the film unit, people can experiment attitudes, communication styles, leadership models, conflict management strategies and roles that are often far from their life experience.

The work for creating a movie can follow the following steps:

  • Brainstorming and choice of subject
  • Writing the screenplay and the storyboard
  • Selection of the actors and creation of the film production organizational chart
  • Film planning and shooting
  • Participatory editing and post-production
  • Projection of the movie and feedback

The theme and the subject of the screenplay are chosen by the members of the group during the first sessions. The film working follows the choices that the group takes with the progress of the sessions so that the dialogues that each actor-client plays in the movie can also come from the improvisation work directly on the set or during some acting rehearsal.

The filmmaking process is a metaphor of a different way of being together and people experience the possibility of transforming their fantasies into something concrete, into an artistic and creative product resulting from the collaboration of the entire working group.

Through teamwork, the socialization process is enhanced by the sharing, commitment and involvement of group members who feel part of a common project.

Creativity becomes a life experience in which people choose to play and stay.  During the work can come out stage fright, anxiety, the fear of being seen, the fear of looking at yourself in the video and the fear of getting involved.

In this type of intervention, the therapist should develop a function of holding and support fundamental for the group to feel in a non-judgmental space open to diversity and inclusion.

One can experience the fear of the judgment of others or the fear of not being up to the task, avoiding the role of actor and preferring a technical role as a person “behind the scenes”.

They are possibilities and ways of being in the group that are to be welcomed and respected and not necessarily interpreted as psychological defenses and resistances to the work.

Rather it is useful to ensure a rotation of technical roles in order to facilitate the exchange of functions and behaviors among the different people in the group.

The founding of a role play and creativity laboratory allows to get in touch with parts of yourself sometimes denied and blocked in expression.

The director’s role, for example, in such an experience is configured as a leadership role in which one’s own assertiveness is experienced in directing the troupe. The director works also on personal soft skills such as active listening, effective communication and conflict management with the members of the film crew.

The therapist can take the role of the facilitator of communication within the group. When conflicts emerge in the group therapist favors the adoption of modes of effective and empathic communication for a positive conflict management that can help transform conflicts into constructive opportunities to empower can help to make conflicts constructive opportunities to empower empathy in the group.

  • Spot and Music Video

Create a 1 minute video with the aim of communicating a clear and defined message in an innovative and creative way.

This work can be part of outdoor-based experiential training projects focused on soft skills such as: effective communication, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, decision making, management by objectives, conflict and stress management, persuading, negotiating and influencing.

You can ask the group to represent through a video the culture and the company values or you any other theme or concept interesting for the training intervention.

Also in this case the group works through the participatory video working both on the relational and emotional aspects of teamworking.

An adequate time for verbalization and sharing of feedback is essential after the projection of the film and during the debriefing phase in training intervention.

In the Music Video the images follow and interact with the soundtrack. The group record and produce sounds effects and it is therefore possible to organize recording sessions for sounds produced by the group or narrating voices.

  • Stop Motion Animation

The stop motion is an animated-film making technique in which different photographs of an object shooted in different moment appear to exhibit independent motion when the series of frames is played back as a fast sequence.

The effect is to watch a video that presents a jerky movement of some objects, drawings, characters or puppets.

The objects filmed can also be created by the group with the help of plastic materials (plasticine, clay and others), perhaps even in a special session of art therapy.

In a second phase of the teamwork the different inanimate objects are moved progressively and photographed at each change of position so that the editing of the photographs can produce to the motion and the final video.

  • Group management and the attitude of the art therapist

Training and supervision are necessary tools to gain greater awareness of the emotions involved, of the personal style and personal attitude as an art therapist.

The work of the art therapist is not to interpret or construct meanings for the photographs, the videos and the different products made.

Depending on the specific objectives of the intervention, the therapist should help people to use the products made and the associated experiences to encourage emotional, relational and cognitive connections inside and outside of themselves.

During the sessions the art therapist must assume an empathic, non-judgmental and facilitating attitude.

His interest should not be centered on the artistic quality of the products produced but on the individual and group process that has accompanied, guided and favored their genesis and creation.

At the end of the workshop, the art therapist must plan verbalization phase and activities to let people share thoughts and emotions associated with the work.

Suspending judgments and interpretations is essential to stay with what comes from the person. Therapist should help people to express themselves to the best according to their will and their physical, emotional and cognitive resources available at the moment.

The art therapist should be with the person and the group, letting them to create, often facilitating the process without intervening to direct it, but rather to make it more fluid, where necessary.

Fritz Perls, father of Gestalt Therapy, spoke about creative indifference as the attitude that puts the therapist in a point zero, interested in what brings the client as if he were a child intrigued and amused by playing with what he currently has.

“In creative indifference every answer is interesting because it opens up a perspective that cannot be imagined beforehand: thinking in terms of right or wrong answers makes repetitive work and the situation mechanical, otherwise the patient is a mystery to be contemplated rather than unveiled” (Quattrini, 2007).

According to this view, eliciting and evoking is not the same as inducing in the other but refers to the comparison and co-construction that is constitutive of the therapeutic relationship.

Therapist should ask questions also to help to better recognize emotions and to facilitate the awareness and the expansion of existential perspectives through art and creativity.

Connections can be established between the experiences, the metaphors and the analogies evoked by the work itself and the digital aspects of the experience: thoughts, rationalizations and convictions.

The ultimate goal is to create links between the analogic mind (creative, imaginative, pre-logical and non-verbal) and the digital mind (rational, logical, numerical and verbal) in order to help people elaborate the experiences and the activities.

 

[1] R. Psych., A.T.R., Founder and Director of the PhotoTherapy Centre in Vancouver, Canada. For more information about Judy Weiser and her work visit: www.phototherapy-centre.com

 

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