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“A Lens of Hope” – A CST Photo Exhibit – Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) - AACI

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“A Lens of Hope” – A CST Photo Exhibit

December 4, 2014

A Lens of Hope

 

Last night, CST hosted an exhibit showcasing the photographic talents of 12 individuals forced to migrate and create a home in Santa Clara County, CA.

As part of a novel activity-based approach implemented by CST’s occupational therapist intern, Anjali Nigam, a group of clients participated in a therapeutic photography project over the past two months. The exhibit served as a culmination to the project for the participants to share not only their photos, but also to give a voice to their thoughts. Therapeutic Photography allows individuals to visually capture their experiences, environments, and emotions through photographs. When accompanied by a caption, story, or poem, the photograph can be used as a means to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings otherwise masked in verbal expression alone. Not only does this process prove to be a therapeutic mode of mindful reflection for the participant, but the resulting images artistically reveal realities of human life, whether positive or negative, to the beholder as well. Many of the participants had never used a camera before this project. All of them have experienced trauma and uprooting in their life. As their technical skills improved, so did their ability to ascribe meaning and express themselves. Themes often emerged in the weekly discussions – feeling homesick and missing loved ones, facing various struggles, and most of all, the importance of having hope. Hence the title of the exhibit , A Lens of Hope. Despite differences in age, nationality, religion, and language, the group shared laughs as well as tears; they shared their opinions, frustrations, and wisdom.

Each participant chose a final photograph from their collection to share at the exhibit, accompanied by a short speech. Some presented in their native language, in which case it was read afterwards in English. Attendees had an opportunity to write down their own thoughts, reactions, and comments on note cards that were then given to each photographer. The event successfully conveyed the emotion and meaning that the participants intended. Further, they proudly presented in front of an audience – a first for all. Their individual strengths certainly shined.

Anjali Nigam is an occupational therapist from Washington University in St. Louis currently completing her doctoral apprenticeship with CST. The therapeutic photography project is one of the projects she has created and implemented. CST is making efforts to incorporate therapeutic activity-based approaches to enhance existing psychological treatments for its clients. The photography project is one such example that has already shown positive effects for those who have participated. For more information, you can contact Anjali via LinkedIn or at anjali.nigam88@gmail.com.

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AACI/Center for Survivors of Torture.

A Lens of Hope