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Cinema Therapy

Have you ever had the opportunity to enjoy an inspirational movie, and it just lit up your world?  I oftentimes find myself choosing movies with themes that mirror my current situation or problem. It’s almost like the characters in the movie take on the role of the person or condition that challenge me, or subjects that are close to my heart.

What is Cinema Therapy?

“Cinema therapy” is real and is sometimes prescribed by therapists. However, it’s usually a self-administered opportunity to do interventional work in the privacy of your own home. Cinema therapy is the process of using movies made for the big screen or television for therapeutic purposes.  The idea is that movies can change the way you think, feel, and ultimately deal with life’s ups and downs.

When watching the movie unfold on the screen, a person may end up sobbing, laughing hysterically, or showing emotions freely, which they might not feel comfortable doing on their own. This display can have a cathartic effect and can also get them more accustomed to expressing emotion. Releasing and letting go of emotion can be an important precursor or accompaniment to being able to open up in counseling or real life.

Movies Can Help You Make Sense of Real Life

Myths and narratives about fantastic beings, heroes, and gods have been around forever. As human beings, we are story-telling animals. Learning and knowledge have been passed down for thousands of years through stories. Stories are the way we understand and make sense of the world. A good story engages a person’s curiosity, emotions, and imagination. Movies are stories that can help us see the world in a different way and from a different perspective.

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)

NAMI has a list of mental health movies that are increasingly bringing up the true epitome of the mental health crisis that many of us go through.  Some of these include:

A Beautiful Mind

This movie, based on a true story, highlights the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russel Crow), as a mathematical savant who lived with schizophrenia.  The movie beautifully captures the challenges John faced throughout his life, including paranoia and delusions that altered his promising career and deeply affected his life. Through the magic of film, viewers can live John’s hallucinations with him, which feel as real to the audience as they did to him.

Silver Linings Playbook

After a stay in a mental health hospital, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) is forced to move back in with his parents. His previously untreated symptoms bipolar disorder caused him to lose both his wife and job, and he is determined to get his wife back. In his efforts, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him in exchange for Pat being her ballroom dance partner. Silver Linings Playbook represents the range of emotion that often occurs with bipolar disorder in a real and riveting way.

For more information on Cinema Therapy, or any other mental health issue, we are here for you!  Please reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714. We are all in this together!  


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