A university in Aberdeen, Scotland is now offering a first-of-its-kind course: an academic qualification on using photography to deal with loss. The postgraduate course is aimed at professionals who work with young, marginalized people who are interested in using photography in their therapeutic practice.
Course leader Dr Neil Gibson is a senior lecturer at Robert Gordon University where the course is being run. He has dedicated years of research and his PhD to therapeutic practices, and has written a book illustrating some of the ways in which photography can enhance self-esteem, resilience and self-reliance.
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In the lead-up to the course, Dr Gibson has worked with the local mental health organization Pillar Kincardine to establish a therapeutic photography group open to adults coping with emotional, social or mental health challenges. He has also traveled to Kenya, where he worked with communities using photos to explore issues related to political upheaval.
The online course is delivered across two modules. The first will focus on dynamics, theories, skills and outcomes of using therapeutic photography techniques, while the second explores the historical development of the practice while underpinning theories and discussing anticipated outcomes.
During the pandemic, Dr Gibson worked closely with a group of bereaved people using therapeutic photography as a coping mechanism and those who took part reported positive outcomes from the experience. He noted: “This is an exciting development in the use of photography as a therapeutic tool and answers a need from professionals in various practices who work with vulnerable people and are looking for new, innovative techniques to engage and empower them.”
The course is run over a period of 12 months on a part-time basis. Entry requirements are a 2:2 (Lower Second-Class Honours in the British educational system) in any undergraduate degree, although lower grades will be considered case by case depending on experience. To find out more information about how much the course will cost, what funding is available and what jobs it could lead to, head to the RGU website.