Berman, L (1993) Beyond the Smile - the Therapeutic use of the photograph. London: Routledge. Pp.214. Paperback.
Berman has produced a fascinating account of both the rationale and technique of using photographs in psychotherapy - without advocating a sloppy eclectic style.
The author first sets photographs in context, drawing our attention to the ways in which images are constructed - both purposefully and unconsciously. We open the pages of not just magazines but also of family albums. She goes on to explain how to make use of photographs in therapy whether they are introduced by the client or they are our own intervention. Timing, exploration of feelings and interpretation of the image need to occur within a reflexive framework which accounts for transference and counter-transference material. Readers are offered an in depth vignette of this process with one client as well as numerous useful and insightful examples of how to enable clients to understand the nuances and paradoxes of photographs. Just as clinical material can be listened to on a number of levels, so too can photos be viewed from a number of different perspectives.
"Discovering the 'I' through the 'eye' of the camera" involves deconstructing past and current images and the reality which gave rise to them. Some clients may want to reconstruct these images by rearranging characters in the photographs. Berman makes suggestions as to who might benefit from using photographs; for instance, adoptive children, older people, sexually abused clients or clients with eating disorders, for example.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - in fact I could hardly bring myself to put it down once I'd started. I also found myself looking at my own family album with a new perspective.
Colleen HeenanColleen Heenan,