Concept of Ecofemography
" In my life, as in my work, I am motivated by a great yearning
for balance and harmony beyond the realm of human experience,
reaching for the essence of oneness with the universe. "
In addition to being a portrait photographer for over 30 years, the past 6 years I have been researching and writing about body image, identity issues, eating disorders, and the neuroscience of visual processing. During this time, I have developed and implemented my own form of therapeutic photography that I term Ecofemography, which also incorporates the healing elements of being in nature.
The enormous psychological influence that visuals have on women and our culture cannot be overemphasized, and acknowledging the power of this influence is the first step in altering how we see things. Experiencing the therapeutic photography process of Ecofemography provides an opportunity for a woman to explore her inner voice. Through the use of portraits, a woman can reconstruct what she has internally adopted from our culture about beauty through living with and observing her images with the intention of changing the self perspective to one that is more wholistic and healthy. Holding onto that vision—our personal and powerful experience with nature—can shift our internal reference point from media-created to personally inspired.
One of the most inspiring books I read during my research was Eating in the Light of the Moon, by Anita Johnston (1996). Johnston discusses the intrinsic relationship between the life cycles of women, the moon, and the earth and how being disconnected from this relationship causes women to suffer:
"Imagine if we women understood our bodies to be reflections of the cycles found in nature. We would recognize that the waters in our bodies follow a rhythm as sure as the change in seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, the waning and waxing of the moon. If we honored the inherent wisdom of our bodies, we would learn to listen, to treat them with respect instead of judgment, and to experience them as sacred messengers that bring us information about our physical needs, our innermost feelings, and our individual internal rhythms." (p. 105)
As well as being an expert in body image and identity issues, I have experience working clinically at the residential and outpatient level for eating disorders, and regularly consult with a dietitian, medical doctor, and psychiatrist with eating disorder related issues. My therapeutic approach is integrated, combining elements of depth psychology, attachment theory, PhotoTherapy, IFS (internal family systems), CBT, exposure and response methods, and women’s spirituality.
Combined, these methods are most helpful in the treatment of trauma and other psychological difficulties. Both IFS and Depth Psychology address human suffering by focusing on the repressed parts of ourselves, and finding transformation through the integration of these parts with our conscious mind. They also allow for making sense of cultural influences that affect our psyche and help form our internal belief systems. PhotoTherapy utilizes the use of visuals, namely photographs, in recalling and integrating parts of ourselves and our relationships that have immense importance in our life.