Visual Healing: An Emerging Modality

Cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg’s time lapse images

This short narrated film by Louie Schwartzberg is just an example of the filmmaker’s work with capturing nature with macro, time lapse cinematography. After decades of work, which was born of a hobby, and his breakout series called Moving Art, millions have given feedback that his images have a healing effect.

Based on this feedback Schwartzberg is developing a modality of care called visual healing to help reduce the emotional anxiety and physical stress of patients confined to stark, clinical settings. Schwartzberg is currently in partnerships with healthcare providers at U.C. San Diego and the Center for BrainHealth at U.T. Dallas as well as numerous spas and luxury hotels to research how visual images promote healing.

Through these research studies, healthcare providers are collecting data on how visual healing helps reduce heart and respiratory rates reduce pain and improve sleep. At U.T. Dallas, for example, patients in every room are given an iPad and can choose which natural environment they want to heal in. I don’t have any information on how they collect this data but can imagine that being in an immersive, natural environment is measurably more soothing than the cold, spare settings of most hospitals.

In another study, at Johns Hopkins, terminal patients can volunteer to join an experimental Psilocybin therapy. During their guided trip, individual patients are shown images put to a soundtrack that gives them life altering, mystical experiences that help them cope with their end of life journey. One healthcare provider involved in the project reported that seventy percent of the participants described it as one of the most powerful experiences of their lives. A terminal cancer patient said the experience made it easier to live because he was no longer afraid of dying.

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