Our life experiences shape us. Painful ones can harden or make a heart kinder. In a recent Photo Exhibit hosted by Restore Children and Family Services on February 20, 2023, a group of trauma survivors who participated in the third photo therapy group showcased their depiction of kindness through photography. The even titled Kindness in Lens, held in Barangay Apas, Cebu City, was attended by program participants and their families, local stakeholders, and Restore Board of Directors and supporters from the United States.
While most entries in this exhibit presented a visual narrative of kindness as an external act benefiting others, one entry made a unique impression as it depicted a man staring at a cross with a description bearing a profound message of self-compassion and hope. Consequently, this entry garnered the topmost recognition of the event as it was chosen as the best photo among the six entries.
The winning entry represented the reason why Restore created the therapeutic photography program, otherwise dubbed as Photo Therapy. Serving as a supplement to the individualized therapeutic intervention, Photo Therapy incorporates art-based intervention to help trauma survivors externalize their inner experiences symbolically while aiming to cultivate self-compassion and positive self-image. This nine-week program is facilitated by Restore’s volunteer psychologists in a closed group setting and is customarily capped off with an exhibit to honor the participants’ commitment and courage to go through the entire process.
In this exhibit, which served as culmination celebration for this cohort of therapy participants, Restore clients were provided an occasion to share how the program affected them positively. One noteworthy testimony was that of a survivor who enthusiastically narrated her experience of bouncing back from depression after going through the therapy program. She discovered the grit she needed to reconcile her adverse past to her present reality and move on with a renewed sense of hope and purpose.