Introduce yourself

My name is Leanne Bishara, I am 26 years old and currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology. My passion is understanding the human condition, both inside and outside of the therapy room.

What inspired you to create this Instagram?

I developed my photography project shortly after I began my psychoanalysis. I started the project, essentially, to help me capture and understand what I was going through during therapy.

Being on the couch was a unique experience, one that cannot be explained in words. Because it was never about what my analyst was saying (although his interpretations were insightful and powerful), but about how my analyst made me feel. He made me feel intense, meaningful and valuable feelings that I had never experienced before. Before this, all I ever felt about myself was being insignificant, unwanted, and forgotten. I never liked who I was, but in the course of my psychoanalysis, I learned to. What came out of my analysis was a love for myself and for this work. I developed an unconditional empathy for my own life experiences and those of my patients.

As a photographer, I was inspired by this and immediately picked up my camera to try to capture these feelings and experiences. My personal work changed my view of life. Suddenly all aspects of life became meaningful. Like a work of art it requires all its elements to make the composite a whole. It became the whole of the parts of life, the “good” and the “bad”, which forced me to understand, through photography, the complexity of human nature in its entirety. This is where my portrait series, ‘The Couch’, was born.

What are the messages you want to share with the world?

My portrait series has a dual purpose. First, to demonstrate the healing power of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. And second, to normalize human emotional expression.

That being said, I have two messages that I hope to communicate to the world:

“It’s okay to go to therapy!”

“Your emotions make you human!”

Why did you choose to photograph portraits?

I studied psychology because I love everything human. Naturally, I think that love for human nature comes through in my art. I make portraits of people because to me, people are the most beautiful and interesting things in the world.

You also talk a lot about therapy. What is your opinion about it and how did it help you to heal?

Therapy (psychoanalysis) has changed my life, and I have seen it change the lives of my patients as well. The treatment has a different impact on each individual, and each person will follow it for different reasons. I started psychoanalysis during an important time in my life. I had just gotten engaged and had just started my doctorate, yet I was dissatisfied with my life and dissatisfied with myself. I started therapy to understand why I was feeling this way. I wanted to know what was going on in my mind and in my unconscious. Psychoanalysis introduced me to my mind and helped me gain compassion for my life experiences. Psychoanalysis gave me the space to find the parts of myself that I buried after all my emotional traumas. Through therapy, I was able to rediscover those parts of myself and work through the emotional pain and learn to love myself again. My treatment not only impacted and healed me, but it also impacted and healed those around me. Therapy heals everything.

How do you take care of yourself on a daily basis?

Well, psychoanalysis. I see my psychoanalyst 4 times a week. Psychoanalysis gives me the space to process whatever is going on in my own life, and to process whatever is going on in the work with my patients. In addition to psychoanalysis, I find ways to take care of my body and mind through physical activity, relaxation and time away from social media. I used to believe that my self-esteem was tied to my productivity and achievements. Thus, I would overwork myself and feel guilty if I ever took a day off. My therapy helped me recognize my value as rooted in me and based on who I am intrinsically, not what I achieve. Now, rather than overworking myself and feeling guilty for taking time off, I try to be intentional about taking time for myself and enjoying it!

What advice would you give to someone who is suffering but feels stuck?

Go to therapy! It will change your life ☺