What started off as a very personal journey has grown into a life-long mission with greater pride and purpose for Richard McLaren. A Vietnam Veteran, Richard has found photography to be a vital tool in helping him manage the Chronic Post Traumatic Stress he has lived with for decades.
“After my diagnosis, I struggled to find the answers I was looking for, journeying through a maze of therapists, courses, surveys, clinical trials and online psychotherapies. Instead, I decided to create my own self-managed therapy by focusing on my lifelong hobby of photography.”
Richard has gone on to support others who have suffered similar hardships.
“I began extensive research into this idea of photography as therapy and developed a simple beginner’s photographic course for people with mental illness or disability. I have now conducted over forty courses in and around Brisbane, with a plethora of successful case studies.”
Richard’s courses have been instrumental in the recovery journey of people living with various conditions including trauma, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, ASD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, PTSD and ABI. The courses have since been extended to Indigenous youth and refugees, with similar success.
“Photography is gradually being recognised as another activity that can be used as therapy. Going by the results of some of my courses, it is very effective in setting people on the road to recovery from trauma-related mental illness.”
|"Fire & Water" by Richard McLaren on display at the 2022 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.
Richard says photography can be a positive diversion, providing a tangible distraction from the often-relentless challenges of mental illness.
“It is fun, it gives you something different to focus on, it is safe and rewarding and you are in complete control. If you are unsure of what to photograph, my father once told me that there is a photograph in every day and there is beauty in everything - you only have to look.”
Richard is a member of the Art West Community Gallery and the Royal Queensland Art Society. He has sold several canvas prints through the former and recently won second prize at the RQAS members-only exhibition in June. He was also proud to exhibit in the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition last year.
“I entered two pieces and sold one. Selling my photos provides a boost to my self- esteem and confidence and helps me strive towards producing even better photos to exhibit and sell. I would encourage anyone to try art as a means of working through their challenges. Just have a go – you never know where it could take you.”