A Creative Photography Group - an evidence based method for Occupational Therapists

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

I have always been interested in photographying and creative activities and have used those methods with my clients (mental health) for years. In 2009 I participated in an international conference "Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photograph" that gave me new ideas of how to use photos in occupational therapy.

After the conference I conducted a qualitative research about The Photoinstrument - method with my collague (Riikka Vyyryläinen, now Riikka Takala). We found that although taking photos was very meaningful activity to our clients (long term mental health clients living in assisted housing), the processing of photos (mainly trough analytic conversation) was found to be difficult. Our clients would have needed more conrete methods when processing photos that had been taken.

Taking and processing photos can have lots of beneficial influents with different OT glient groups. It has been shown that therapeutic photography can etc. enable different emotions and thoughts, memories and sensations. Our experiences considering the positive effects of photographying inspired us to create a new group method that combines taking pictures and different creative activities, TOIMIVA Photography Group.

In our previous study one of the conclusions also was that our clients weren't really content with the quality of the pictures that they had taken. We wanted to afford them better possibilieties to take good pictures, which is why we incorporated educational part in TOIMIVA. In this group participants learn basic theories considering taking photos (ie. composition, meaning of light) and learn in practice how theories can be adabted. In addition, there are also group sessions that address self portraits and things of importance.

In group sessions participants get to learn about taking photos and practice photographying, but also pictures that have been taken are processed trough various creative methods. Creative activities are versatile in order to make it possible to find and utilize different interests and strenghts while gaining experience of success. The general goals in this group are learning new skills, experiencing pleasant emotions and developing social skills. We have been studying our method our selves, but also there have been few OT students that have made their thesis (bachelor, in university of applied sciences) about TOIMIVA (with good results).

The group is easy to conduct when using the group manual, that we have made. The manual also includes several alternative activities, so it can be adapted in many ways. Also there are activities that are designed to develop social skills. Manual includes a flashdrive that contains power point -slides which can be used in educational parts of the group. We have made photography cards that can be used in group exercises as well. In Finland we have conducted application educations to OT's considering TOIMIVA, and we have had very positive feedback. It would be also great to have feedback from our English version of TOIMIVA, since we know that it is used almost in every continent. :)

It is truly my pleasure to introduce TOIMIVA method to you all! For further information about TOIMIVA, contact me trough laatuterapia@gmail.com

Irina Katajisto-Korhonen

The Occupational Therapy Hub

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