Phototherapy Case: From Feeling Cramped to Being Epic

This phototherapy session turned out to be a recognition of self significance, uniqueness and value. We touched upon topics of the inner critic, limiting believes and overthinking.

Rita Pakhlova

2 min read

This story is shared with a kind permission of my client and the name is changed for the purpose of protecting her privacy.


Garunik is an exceptional artist, she sees bright and rare worlds around, she is especially fascinated and delighted by the fleeting moments and details that seem insignificant to others. We started phototherapy with an intent to explore the feelings with which Garunik went into the photoshoot, among others she named a feeling of being stiff and cramped. She admits that these feelings come frequently and interfere with her work and self-realization. She often can’t let them go because of paralyzing overthinking. “Instead, I would like if I could speak about myself and express myself differently.” Here we touched upon a limiting belief associated with “I shouldn’t express myself too much.” This would be an interesting topic for discussion with a psychologist, to dig deeper into the beliefs associated with success, publicity, recognition and money. Now ask yourself: Is this statement true? Why shouldn’t I express myself? What happens if I do? What kind of person does this belief make me?

Our beliefs can shape, change, and even determine our level of intelligence, health, social connections, creativity, and even our degree of personal happiness and success in life.” Robert Dilts, one of the pioneers of the Nero-Linguistic Programming (NLP) system

We explored her drive to move from overthinking to, in her own words: a state of ease, fruitfulness, happiness, and zen. Garunik noticed that she already experiences all of these states when she’s observing: “I find great meaning in observation, resourcefulness, time for myself and focus through defocus. It’s like being at a crossroad to decide on a path.”

We looked at the photos, to see if we managed to capture her as an observer. Yes, actually we did.

Some notes from the discussion:

  • I asked, “When you observe, what do you see out there?”

  • She thought for a moment, and then loudly exclaimed: an epic world!

  • And can you not talk about an epic world?

  • No!

  • And how would you talk about it?

  • Epically.. loudly.. dramatically.. with fun.. interestingly.. successfully...

Then I wanted Garunik to self associate with so familiar role of an observer and watch herself, her own epic world. Would there be a difference on how she will describe herself from his perspective.

This could lead to further exploration of demands from others vs from yourself. In some cases one can be more forgiving and supportive of others and at the same time harbor a hostile inner critic with much higher standards for oneself. Balancing demands might help reasoning with the critic, at the same time fostering network of supportive beliefs, such as “I’m good enough” or whatever works for you, can impact self esteem, self worth, satisfaction from achievements, goal setting etc.

She focused on two photos and after watching herself watch, Garunik uttered words of praise and admiration, complimenting herself and her uniqueness. And what about you? When was the last time you complimented yourself? How often do we deny ourselves admiration considering it arrogance and instead indulge in self criticism? Is criticism more noble?

From my perspective, this phototherapy was sort of a recognition of one’s significance, uniqueness and value. Exploring into questions of inner critic, limiting beliefs and overthinking can break one free from inner struggle, so the new ideas, projects and big dreams no longer need a defense against one’s own internal critic, unconscious behavior programs and beliefs that devalue, condemn and inhibit the manifestation of one’s full potential.

I hope these photo-cheat sheets will always remind Garunik of her uniqueness, value for the world, gifts and epicness inside!

Let photos be helpful!