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In photography and therapy, seeing something anew

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2013 - Spring


Linda Cummings, MSW, MFA, who is both a psychotherapist and a photographer, sees parallels between her work in the two fields.

Her photographs—closeups of flowers and splashing water droplets, scenes of water flowing in nature—invite the viewer “to see something anew, perhaps themselves, or their place in the world, in the present moment,” said Cummings, speaking at the Program for Humanities in Medicine in January. Similarly, she said, “the curative process of therapy enables the patient to distinguish between past and present experience so as to establish a new and more integrated ‘picture’ of self and reality in the present moment.”

Just as a mutual relationship forms between photographers and those who view their pictures, so it does between therapists and patients, said Cummings, who practices therapy in New York City: “The mutuality of our influence upon one another is profound, yet often obscured behind economic realities, roles, professional attitudes, styles of training and tradition.” Both in caring for patients and in creating art, she said, “Who we are—our own specific and complex individuality—is part of what we offer.”

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