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LOOKING AT OLD SNAPSHOTS CAN HELP FAMILY BECOME PICTURE OF HAPPINESS

Most family snapshots end up carefully pasted in albums or stashed in a box on the top shelf of the closet. But according to the experts, more regular viewing of those old pictures would be good for our psyches.

"Photographs give us a sense of our history," says David Krauss, a clinical psychologist in Cleveland who uses photos as a part of therapy. "They connect us with the past and with people who aren't there."Snapshots that bring back happy childhood memories "reawaken emotional closeness and allow people to feel those feelings again," Krauss says. Children, especially, can benefit from seeing family pictures; in fact, many experts say it can actually increase their self-esteem.

Stephanie Marston, author of "The Magic of Encouragement" (Morrow, 1990), suggests putting two photos by the child's bed; one of the child with the family and one of the child alone and happy, doing an activity. Marston says seeing these images of the child as loved and capable before going to sleep every night has a lasting impact. Also, showing a young child his or her own baby pictures can help alleviate jealousy of a newborn sibling.

Give treasured snapshots a place of honor in the home - create a gallery in a hallway, for instance. And make going through photo albums a family tradition, Krauss suggests. "Whenever the family gets together is a potential occasion to look at photos," he says.

Finally, snapshots can even help us get over a loss. "Looking at photos can be part of the grieving process when there's a death in the family," Krauss says.