Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Masters of Art Therapy




In this project the use of phototherapy in the psychological assessment process was proposed and explored. The conceptual roots for the phototherapy assessment used here can be found in phenomenological psychological literature, in the history and exploration of photography as an expressive art medium, and in the work of social scientists researching the use of photography in human study. The study investigates whether the photography, its content as well as its formal elements, i.e. camera angle, framing, perspective, lights and darks, distance of the subject from photographer, can reflect the experience and perception of the photographer. It has as its aim the recording and reconstruction of the inner and outer worlds of three individuals through photography.

The specific research methodology involved the selection of three volunteers who agreed to photograph their world on one roll of black and white film. Interviews were conducted in which each of the individuals viewed and titled his/her photographs and explained to the researcher the meanings the images held for him/her. These titles and explanations were transcribed verbatim and are included in the data analysis.

The nature of the data analysis involved a reflective phenomenological reduction . This means that the author attempted to go beyond presuppositional thinking and beyond conceptual theories and systems to the subject's experience as reflected in the verbal and visual elements. From this process specific themes emerged: the individuals image of him/herself, way of relating to others and to the world, feelings of movement, constriction, openness, and/or frustration and isolation. From this information narrative reconstructions of each of the three individuals life-worlds were developed by the researcher. Implications for the uses of phototherapy in psychological assessment and psychotherapy were discussed. Particularly noted was the value of the photograph as a participant-crafted stimulus material and as a rapid facilitator of personal insight. In conclusion, questions for further research were proposed.

Included in

Art Practice Commons