University of Aberdeen now offers therapeutic photography course

A university in Aberdeen, Scotland, is now offering a one-of-a-kind course: an academic qualification on using photography to cope with loss. The postgraduate course is aimed at professionals who work with marginalized young people who wish to use photography in their therapeutic practice.

The course leader, Dr. Neil Gibson, is a senior lecturer at Robert Gordon University, where the course is delivered. He has devoted years of research and his doctorate to therapeutic practices, and has written a book illustrating some of the ways photography can improve self-esteem, resilience and self-reliance.

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Prior to the course, Dr Gibson worked with the local mental health organization Kincardine Pillar create a therapeutic photography group open to adults struggling with emotional, social or mental health challenges. He also traveled to Kenya, where he worked with communities using photos to explore issues related to political upheaval.

The online course is delivered in two modules. The first will focus on the dynamics, theories, skills and outcomes of using therapeutic photography techniques, while the second will explore the historical development of the practice while substantiating theories and discussing expected outcomes.

During the pandemic, Dr. Gibson has worked closely with a group of bereaved people using therapeutic photography as a coping mechanism and those who have participated have reported positive results from the experience. He noted, “This is an exciting development in the use of photography as a therapeutic tool and responds to a need for professionals in a variety of practices who work with vulnerable people and are looking for new, innovative techniques to engage them and empower them.

The course takes place over a period of 12 months on a part-time basis. Entry requirements are 2:2 (Lower Second-Class Honors in the UK education system) into any undergraduate degree, although lower grades are considered on a case-by-case basis depending on experience. To find out more about the cost of the course, the funding available and the jobs it could lead to, go to URG website.

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