For binge-watchers out there who are in dire need of mental health treatment, here’s a treat for you: movie therapy.
You read it right. Movie therapy also known as cinema or film therapy is a type of mental health treatment modality that allows its audience to seek self-awareness and positive life alterations through watching different media-related contents. As Birgit Wolz, PhD., MFT explains it, “Cinema therapy can be a powerful catalyst for healing and growth for anybody who is open to learning how movies affect us and to watching certain films with conscious awareness. Cinema therapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change.” Therapists believe that movie therapy does have a series of psychological health benefits, assuming that watching a film enables examination of stressors and issues in the relationship, work, and life more personal, palatable and relevant.
Without further hubbub, here are some of the reasons why movie therapy is redefining the era of mental health treatments.
Movie Therapy Complements Other Psychotherapies
To say that movie therapy alone can relieve a person of his or her misery is far-reaching. In certain circumstances, depending on the illness of the person, primary psychological treatments are often combined with another type of therapeutic modality to make it more effective.
More so, therapists will adequately assess their patient’s condition first before opting for movie therapy as the primary treatment modality. This sense of productivity and awareness can aid in the progression of conventional counseling sessions.
Movie Therapy Is A Self-Induced Intervention
People watch movies or television shows mainly for enjoyment or as a form of pastime. But personally, people choose specific movie genres that they relate to especially those that reflect their aspirations, situations, and struggles. And the good news is, this content is currently available on a lot of platforms and devices that can easily be accessed and be rendered by Internet streaming, free library, or rental kiosks. You don’t have to look that far.
Aside from that, you don’t have to wait for the next psychotherapy session to gain some clarity and insight on your situation. “The idea is to choose movies with themes that mirror your current problem or situation. For example, if you or a loved has a substance abuse problem, he suggests Clean and Sober or When a Man Loves a Woman, or if you are coping with the loss — or serious illness — of a loved one, he may suggest Steel Magnolias or Beaches.” Gary Solomon, Ph.D., MPH, MSW said. There are tons of movie characters that are carrying similar burdens that you may find a connection with. Though your therapist will undoubtedly have a couple of film suggestions regarding your condition, you still can freely choose which shows resonate with you and learn from their challenges while taking notes of the resolutions.
Movie Therapy Facilitates Mental and Physical Breakthroughs
According to Shainna Ali Ph.D., LMHC, “A good movie prompts us to think. Aspects such as gaps in time and underdeveloped characters could be the foundation for film critique, or opportunities for your own truth.” Discovering the thoughts and emotions that you never knew existed is one of the goals of movie therapy. There are certain feelings that you have repressed or ignored for so long that when elaborately portrayed in a movie, create a healing process by opening doors to the subjugated psyche. After seeing yourself and your life played by the protagonist, sentiments that you’ve tried to subdue will resurface and can freely cross the unbearable threshold.
Movie therapy helps people realize that emotions must be felt and expressed rather than be restrained for all eternity. Sometimes, people who do not cry over death or loss will find themselves bawling their eyes out over Marley and Me.
Movie Therapy Offers Impassioned Expression
In a chaotic, stressful world, watching movies is a form of escapism – to distract oneself from the disturbing reality that one currently faces. Being mentally and emotionally engaged in your chosen film for the sake of getting your mind off of negativity is psychologically therapeutic. Even if it’s only for a limited moment, the time provided to set your mind at ease and be relaxed is soothing and rejuvenating to have you re-engage with real-life events.
With everything that’s going on in the world today, people are becoming less and less expressive of their thoughts and feelings and end up bottling up their emotions. And because not a lot of people are comfortable with the idea of opening up to some stranger, movie therapy is ideal for exploring psychological problems and eventually finding resolve in the privacy of one’s home.