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A Life in the Day Using images to capture and share service users' spirituality Hazel Bryce Lorraine Article information: To cite this document: Hazel Bryce Lorraine, (2009),"Using images to capture and share service users' spirituality", A Life in the Day, Vol. 13 Iss 4 pp. 12 - 15 Permanent link to this document: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13666282200900036 Downloaded on: 29 June 2016, At: 05:58 (PT) References: this document contains references to 0 other documents. To copy this document: firstname.lastname@example.org The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 109 times since 2009* Downloaded by Purdue University Libraries At 05:58 29 June 2016 (PT) Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:281668  For Authors If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald for Authors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelines are available for all. Please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information. About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well as providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services. Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. *Related content and download information correct at time of download. Downloaded by Purdue University Libraries At 05:58 29 June 2016 (PT) SPIRITUALITY Using images to capture and share service users’ spirituality Hazel Bryce and Lorraine This article explores some of the images and words that service users choose to capture and represent their unique spirituality. It was written using mate; rial that service users produced as part of two projects focusing on spirituality and hope. The first project involved a group where service users were given a camera to capture something that represented their spirituality. The second project involved producing material for an art exhibition entitled Growing Hope, that was showcased in Sheffield as part of World Mental Health Day 2009. The article is written by Hazel Bryce, an occupational therapist working in an assertive outreach team (SORT) in Sheffield, and Lorraine, a service user who worked on the two projects and who has an interest in spirituality. They reflect together on the process of being involved in the projects and the meaning of this piece of work. The article was written together to try to capture a range of perspectives. Key words: Spirituality; Hope; Mental health; Images; Recovery pirituality as a concept is hard to define and encompasses a broad range of experiences. We are all unique and thus express and interpret our spirituality in different ways. When asked what spirituality meant to the participants of this project, a variety of responses were received. S ‘Spirituality means everything and nothing – it is incomprehensible.’ ‘Spirituality means paradise.’ ‘Spirituality is the ongoing life of the spirit, giving me hope and optimism.’ ‘Spirituality to me is something which I go to seek guidance, refuge and comfort. It is a part 12 of my life, and an element of my recovery. It is about faith and trust.’ These responses, at some level, all encompass hope. In a recent briefing on spirituality and mental health, the Mental Health Foundation – which has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the importance of spirituality – makes the claim that: ‘[spirituality] can provide a sense of belonging and hope, as well as enhance coping strategies and sense of control.’ (Mental Health Foundation, 2008) This quote is something that Lorraine continues to experience throughout her life. She feels strongly that her spirituality helps to give her a sense of hope. By A life in the day Volume 13 Issue 4 November 2009 © Pier Professional Ltd Using images to capture and share service users’ spirituality understanding and acknowledging what gives people hope, it can be used and drawn upon throughout life and in times of difficulty. As a service, understanding people’s spirituality helps us to support people better. The concept of ‘spirituality’ for this project and article is taken to be ‘what gives your life hope and meaning’. I kept my stone in a special place, and added to it a stone from Iona that Chrissie [SORT worker] brought back for me. Since then I have collected a few special stones. They represent my Christian faith as they are solid, pleasant to feel and look at, firm and indestructible.’ Use of images I became interested in different modes of representing and expressing spirituality, especially using images, metaphors, and photography. Creativity is linked to spirituality. In our NHS Trust leaflet, spirituality is described as: Downloaded by Purdue University Libraries At 05:58 29 June 2016 (PT) ‘The journey towards meaning and purpose in life. Self-expression, relationships and mental health are closely linked with our spiritual state.’ (Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, 2008) Images and metaphors are a form of self-expression, which can be used to represent concepts that cannot easily be described. Images have been used to represent spirituality widely over the years, from icons in the Orthodox Church to stained glass windows. Some of the best known painters such as Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci use religion and spirituality as their inspiration. This art is challenging and intriguing, full of the extraordinary mystery of faith, portraying complex symbolism. These works can calm the senses and inspire the soul, connecting people to their spiritual side (Davis, 2005). Within different cultures, people learn to associate specific visual images with meanings (Banks, 2001). I encouraged service users to find their own meanings in the images that they captured. The images demonstrate a combination of people’s own unique meanings, and of societies commonly held perceptions. These have shaped and influenced the service users’ choice of images. When considering the images, it was important for me to take a step back and acquire a broader perspective, being aware of how I was interpreting the images according to my own experience. 1. Stone 2. Picture ‘This reminds me of getting through the day, going into God’s peaceful, eternal rest and sleep.’ 2. Picture © Dick Twinney 3. Reservoir ‘When I think of God I think of the light reflecting off the lake.’ 3. Reservoir Images Here are a selection of the images produced by service users with explanations. 4. Stone 1. Stone This stone represents my spiritual life. I chose it out of a bowl when I was on an organised day retreat with the Chaplin at Northern General Hospital. We were asked to choose a stone. I was so impressed by Holy Rood House that I made further enquiries and went to stay there on a residential retreat. There I met the two vicars and other friendly staff who worked there. I went there at least once a year for a week and took friends there and made new friends. I took Maisy [my dog] and she was a much loved guest in the house too. ‘It makes me feel safe and reminds me of the group.’ 4. Stone A life in the day Volume 13 Issue 4 November 2009 © Pier Professional Ltd 13 Using images to capture and share service users’ spirituality My road along life My road along life started off very happily …. Beautiful fields of golden corn glistening in the sunshine I spluttered, struggled, drowning in my well of self pity. I had been in my well, quite some time. Crying a lot. Then one day. A wise, old gorilla appeared. Beautiful animals feeding on the luscious green foliage. The wintery, fresh iciness brought purity to the air. It was good to breathe! He said ‘I have a rope ladder, pull yourself out of your madness and despair, into the light walk back on your road again.’ Downloaded by Purdue University Libraries At 05:58 29 June 2016 (PT) I was a, thoroughly happy, Care free Financially secure, Beautiful, Young lady. Then the dark days descended My road started to have twists and turns. I didn’t like it. I was scared. Then it became not a road at all. A jungle, That I need to hack through to take the tinniest of steps. Here the wickedest of spirits dwelt and the toughest of animals I could only survive. Eventually I tripped and fell Down a well, of loneliness, and despair. The wicked spirit’s voices plagued me day and night. My first step on the rope ladder took courage A friendly sheep barred down ‘Come on, come on up, have faith in yourself. You can climb up Out of this isolation. You may find your lovely road’. So I did. With plenty of persuasion Rung by rung, I tentatively climbed my way out. The sheep always encouraging, barring away. I continued into the light. I know that my road has changed And it is still a pebbly path. But on it, step by step, I am walking. No longer drowning, In my well of self pity. Poems Two users wrote poetry about what hope encompasses for them and then inserted images to capture the essence of the poems. Above is one of them by Lorraine, called My road along life. Evaluation This project opened my eyes to the value of explaining complex phenomenon using images and metaphors. It helped me to understand service users’ spirituality better, and how to provide more appropriate support at times of distress. By discussing and sharing the images as part of a group, it connected people to each other, making service users feel not as alone, and more 14 understood. Lorraine described the value of the visual as allowing her to say things that she cannot easily put into words: ‘By taking an image/photo, it allowed me to better understand what gives me hope now and in the future. Talking to others and listening to others enabled me to better understand others, and relate to their pictures, it made me feel accepted.’ She felt very encouraged and hopeful: A life in the day Volume 13 Issue 4 November 2009 © Pier Professional Ltd Using images to capture and share service users’ spirituality ‘Understanding my spirituality better made me feel happier, and more able to draw upon that resource. I feel that it is very important for workers to understand service users’ spirituality, and provide support in this area in times of distress.’ Other comments included: ‘Looking at the picture that we took gives me hope.’ Downloaded by Purdue University Libraries At 05:58 29 June 2016 (PT) ‘I had forgotten about the stones, finding them again I have re-established a bond with them, making me want to treasure them. I have been reminded several times of positive memories and drawn strength from the stones.’ Reflections about the process Capturing images was a new concept to many of the service users. They required encouragement to focus on the images, and not to be overly concerned about the quality of the images that were produced and their photography skills. Service users had to be comfortable in sharing the images and this may have influenced the photos taken. Time and location were factors in what images could be captured; this was especially true with the poems. Reflexivity is vital in any area of work and especially when using and interpreting images (Pink, 2001). Did service users produce images that they thought would be easily displayed and that would please me? I have learned through this project that it is not predominately about the images that were created but the process involved in taking them, the individual learning, and the shared belonging that was created by talking about the images. “By exploring images, service Future work? users can gain This was a small piece of work, and we would like to explore how other phenomena can be captured and understood through using images. We would also like to see how people’s images of spirituality change according to their stage in recovery, and further explore the use of images with poetry. The individuals and the group would like to continue to capture and discuss images that have significance and meaning for them. Overall, we feel that images can be used and explored widely within a variety of contexts, to capture and explain complex ideas. By exploring images, service users can gain understanding, connect with others, and have a reminder of an image to draw upon throughout their lives. understanding, connect with others, and have a reminder of an image to draw upon throughout their lives.” References Banks M (2001) Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage. Davis J (2005) Sacred Art. Hampshire: Jarold Publishing. Mental Health Foundation (2008) Need 2 Know. Executive Briefing: Spirituality and mental health. London: Mental Health Foundation. Pink S (2001) Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, media and representation in research. London: Sage. Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (2008) Exploring Spiritual and Faith Needs. Sheffield: Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust. For more information email Hazel Bryce at email@example.com (on maternity leave till summer 2010) or Chrissie Hinde at Chrissie.firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone 0114 226 4800. Hazel Bryce is an occupational therapist working with an assertive outreach team in Sheffield (SORT). SORT works with service users who have complex mental health needs in the community. Lorraine is a service user who worked on this project and has an interest in spirituality. A life in the day Volume 13 Issue 4 November 2009 © Pier Professional Ltd 15