The majority of the children and youths in our family-type homes were abandoned shortly after their birth. It is inevitable that from an early age this event would leave some emptiness in their lives. For them, growing up in parallel with photos, that can be compiled into an album is impossible; they don’t have any baby photos with Mom, Dad, or Grandma, no photos from family celebrations. This lack of that positive history, which begins from the family and creates a healthy foundation for the future development of every individual, brings emptiness and makes finding oneself considerably more difficult.
Through the “Find Me” project, we provided support for a more independent life and social inclusion by applying the psychodramatic therapeutic approach of Photo Drama.
Sixty-two children and youths, 48 of which live with some sort of disability, took part in the project. Photo Drama helps the development of children and youths by allowing them to create and enrich their personal history, based on reality, which they inhabit. Photo Drama is performed in a group and within a protected environment. Through the support of their mentors, the children and youths observe, explore and come to know themselves with the help of photography. Through photography’s shooting, review, and analysis, a strong therapeutic effect is brought about in a group setting.
During the photo sessions, the youths had the opportunity to get to know themselves as well as the others around them. They observed and analyzed their feelings when their photos were taken and studied their image. The group discussions, through the help of the mentors, helped them develop their abilities to share and presenting through images, and improved their sense of their equality within a group.
In addition, the Photo Drama sessions helped the youths in our centers develop their skills and talents. They independently chose their roles and appropriate outfits. In a number of sessions, they had the opportunity to live out the feeling of posing in front of a camera, and enacting their role by wearing make-up and the appropriate costume.
The usage of this therapeutic method has shown that observing one’s photo image, even in children living with intellectual disabilities, often leads to an improvement in their self-assessment and self-confidence. In addition, it inspires a positive emotionality in the children’s psychology and assists in their personal development.
We realized the Photo Drama activities with the support of the “Centaur Art” Foundation as part of the “Find me. Look at me. Support me. Support for independent living and social inclusion.” funded by the European Union as part of the “Human Resources Development” operational programme.