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Navigating the complexity of the therapeutic and clinical use of photography in psychosocial settings: a review of the literature

Emanuela Saita, Martina Tramontano
  • Martina Tramontano
    Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Sacred Hearth, Milan, Italy


In contrast with the recent increase in the use of photography as a therapeutic tool in psychological settings, lack of clarity exists regarding this intervention modality. While the distinction among Photo Therapy, Therapeutic Photography, and Photo Art Therapy is theoretically established we examined whether this classification is confirmed also in practice. Electronic databases (PsychINFO, PubMed, MEDLINE, and Social Sciences Abstracts-EBSCO) were systematically searched for studies published in the last fifteen years utilizing photographic techniques as the elective method of intervention. A total of 124 articles were identified, of which 21 met the inclusion criteria. Results indicate that photography has been used in health, clinical, social, and community settings. Photovoice, Photographic Self-Portrait, and Photo Presentation are the methods most commonly implemented. Several contributions could be placed in more than one of the above-mentioned models of intervention; suggesting that the criteria to assign articles to each model are difficult to apply when the models are put into practice.


Literature review; Phototherapy; Therapeutic photography; Photo art therapy; Psychosocial settings.

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Submitted: 2017-11-29 09:49:57
Published: 2018-04-12 10:48:41
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Copyright (c) 2018 Emanuela Saita

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