Cinema Therapy at Oscar Time
This Year's Nominations Provide Rich Resources
for the Therapeutic Process
Clinical Update February 2015
By Zur Institute
View a complete list of Clinical Updates.
The motion picture industry is often at the very cusp of a revolutionary mode of entertaining that challenges, teaches, and changes the world that received it. The Oscars, to be presented this year on Feb. 22nd, provide a catalyst for conscious expansiveness. We will explore interpsychic, interpersonal, and social justice issues. As our Online CE Courses on Cinema Therapy show, movies can be a valuable adjunct tool for the therapeutic process.
During the clinical hour, Cinema Therapy can be applied as an adjunct to numerous therapeutic modalities in the following ways:
Evocative Way: This way utilizes movies by borrowing from dream work. When films resonate with clients, they touch an unconscious or preconscious part of their psyche. A film may move them deeply and a character scene might also upset clients intensely. Understanding their emotional responses to these movies, just as in understanding their dreams, can serve as a window to their unconscious.
The Prescriptive Way: Specific films are prescribed to model specific problem-solving behavior. Movies can also help clients learn "by proxy" how not to do something because they see the negative consequences of a character's action. For example, when characters struggle with addictions (28 Days) or when a couple works on their communication (50/50).
The Cathartic Way: By identifying with certain characters and their predicaments, clients can experience emotions that lie hidden from their awareness (Lorenzo's Oil). Because many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect, they can neutralize the instinct to suppress feelings and trigger emotional release (In America).
Groups: The impact of films as catalysts for psychological processes dovetails well with the therapeutic effects of group dynamics. Group members' reflections about their emotional responses to a movie are an added component that enriches group therapy (Grand Canyon).
Articles by Birgit Wolz