Photovoice: A Creative Breather
In the spring of 2022, two years into a challenging pandemic, the Zelda Foster Studies Program collaborated with Annie Levy, BFA, LMSW, to offer Zelda community members the opportunity to “take a creative breather” and come together to reduce stress and isolation by having a shared experience. Annie Levy specializes in using a myriad of forms of Participatory Communications to engage and equip people in sharing their experiences, including Photovoice, which was used in our project.
Photovoice was developed in 1992 by Caroline C. Wang, DrPH, and Mary Ann Burris, PhD, who described it as “a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique.” Participants take, share, and collectively reflect on photographs that capture aspects of their environment and experiences related to chosen community issues. Participants in our Photovoice project met three times with the photographs they took for each session centered on themes integral to palliative and end-of-life care: Affirm Life, Relief from Pain, and Integrating Psychosocial and Spiritual Aspects Into Care. No photographic experience was necessary, and the group consisted of Zelda alumni from all three of our standing programs: the Leadership Fellowship, the MSW Fellowship, and the Post Master’s Certificate in Palliative and End-of-Life Care. Below are a few examples of the work submitted.
Theme: Affirm Life
Credit: Neeta Arbeiter
“This is a photo of my younger son last year on an incredible journey we took to Iceland. He is at a glacier, and on the same day we saw waterfalls, black sand beaches, and an indoor hydroponic tomato farm. He looks like he is floating between the rock, the ice formation and the melted ice/lake. It is life affirming to me as it reminds me of adventure, our incredible planet, and my love for him and the life affirming person he has been, and I hope, will always be.”
Neeta Arbeiter, MA, is the Program Administrator for the Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End of Life Care. She works to support all aspects of the program, and has been at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work since 2017. Neeta holds an MA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, along with multiple Montessori and New York State teaching credentials, and was a classroom teacher for more than 15 years.
Theme: Relief From Pain
Credit: Kristyn Fazzalaro
“This photo brings me to a meditative space…a place to quiet my mind and focus on something other than any physical or emotional pain that I might be experiencing. The peaceful and methodical flow of the water gives a focal point that immediately helps me slow my breathing and refocus my energy.”
Kristyn Fazzalaro, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C is the Manager of the Palliative Care and Oncology Support Services programs at Hoag Health System in Orange County, California. Kristyn completed the Zelda Foster Leadership Fellowship in Spring 2015 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Palliative Care Quality Collaborative which is focused on defining best practices for palliative care programs at the national level. As an operations leader, Kristyn is able to combine her passion for patient advocacy with building programs that allow patients to receive the care and services that best match their personal values and goals.
Theme: Integrating Psychosocial and Spiritual Aspects Into Care
Credit: Nick Koufacos
“This is a photograph of a beautiful tree located at the Bronx Veterans Affairs that’s in an area that’s often not seen because it’s away from the main entrance. It’s a great space within the medical center to pause, reflect, and connect to nature. Every winter is followed by spring and this tree bursts into life again with vibrant green leaves every May.”
Nick Koufacos is a clinical social worker with advanced training in geriatrics and palliative care. He completed a post-graduate interdisciplinary fellowship in palliative care at the VISN2 GRECC located at the Bronx VA Medical Center and is a graduate of NYU’s Zelda Foster MSW Fellowship in Palliative and End of Life Care. His area of specialty is dementia care and currently serves as the Dementia Care Coordinator where he conducts geriatric evaluations for Veterans living in rural areas of Hudson Valley NY, facilitates virtual support groups for caregivers, and provides continuing education courses for VA staff on the topic of dementia.