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Brilliant Cinema Therapy Benefits For Mental Health.

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The film is a kind of metaphor in which you can see the reflection of a specific life situation. Cinema reflects our life, and we often recognize ourselves and our loved ones in films’ characters, events, and situations.

Watching a good movie can bring you all the feels, but did you know that it can be used in therapy too?

Movie therapy works in all kinds of practices, from family counseling, individual counseling, and especially marriage counseling. 

This article is perfect for you if you want to know:

  • What cinema therapy is
  • How it works
  • What kinds of cinema therapy there are 

What is cinema therapy?

Gary Solomon first created cinema therapy or movie therapy. Still, Anghelo Taylor wrote the Cinema Therapy manifesto.

In order for cinema therapy truly exist the filmmaker must have an internal search, question or problem to solve inside himself but that relates with the rest of humanity or with specific community. Once the filmmaker and his crew engage in the process of filmmaking, they start healing by the revelation and situations that happen along the process of making a film. In the end, the result of that process will be a medicine for all the viewers as human beings. But everything starts with the deep intention that the filmmaker has when making the film. 

Anghelo Taylor

This type of therapy is considered expressive therapy, much like art therapy, music therapy, and dance therapy. Expressive therapy is used to help people who are struggling to process their emotions or express their feelings. It especially helps people struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma. 

The basics of movie therapy is a therapist will assign a movie for their client or clients to watch along with several questions for them to discuss after the film is finished. 

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There are several branches of cinema therapy, including Popcorn Cinema Therapy, Evocative Cinema Therapy, and Cathartic Cinema Therapy. 

Popcorn Cinema Therapy.

Popcorn cinema therapy is for relaxation and entertainment. These are movies that you can just have a good time watching. 

People who need popcorn cinema therapy would be those struggling with anxiety and couples dealing with a high level of conflict. It is also very effective for families who haven’t been connecting. 

The idea of popcorn cinema is for the people watching it to have an enjoyable, fun experience, so watching light-hearted comedies and cartoons are best for this type of therapy. I have a blog post with interesting film discussion questions, these questions are ideal for a chat after a movie.

Evocative Cinema Therapy.

Evocative cinema therapy was created to help people work through and see issues in their own lives using storylines, plots, and characters in movies to reflect themselves. 

When a person watches a movie about something they are going through, like a divorce or an illness, they are better able to identify emotions and thought processes in their own lives. 

Being able to see our own story mirrored on screen can help identify emotions, and it can also make us feel much less alone in our experience so that we can heal. 

It can also help you peel back the layers of a situation you are going through to see better the depths of what you are struggling with. These are where well-thought-out questions and discussion can bring therapy breakthroughs. 

Cathartic Cinema Therapy

Cathartic movie therapy deals with movies with powerful storylines and emotions that bring out big emotions in the viewers.  

While you may not walk away with significant insights into your life as you do with evocative cinema therapy, you experience a release of emotions that you have been either holding in or avoiding. 

The idea is getting a good cry or a movie full of belly laughs that gets you out of your current emotional state and helps reset where you are touching. This release of emotions can bring you closer to inner harmony or emotional equilibrium. It can be beneficial if you are dealing with depression and anxiety. 

These movies are our good cry movies. You might already have a favorite film or TV show that you watch when you need a good cry or a big pick me up. These would fall under Cathartic Cinema Therapy. 

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How do movies help with mental health?

The psychotherapist and the director do the same thing – they explore the inner world of a person and the external manifestations of his experiences, learn and reveal the main life stories and topics that concern humanity. They try to comprehend life and tell others about their discoveries.

The director offers us a piece of life in the form of a film. And sometimes it becomes medicine for us.

The psychotherapeutic dialogue with the film occurs due to two mechanisms:

-The psychic mechanism by which the viewer assigns a meaning to a film story that is relevant to him gives it its meanings.

-The viewer puts himself in the hero’s place, living the story with him or, conversely, opposing himself to him.

Usually, we like those characters that correspond to our ideals and values in the movies and embody our dreams. And we oppose ourselves to those heroes who embody our unrecognized dark part (what Jung called the Shadow).

It has already been proven that films affect those parts of the brain responsible for feelings, speech, and thinking. And reactions to the same movie in different people coincide by 65 percent.

Why do movies influence us so much?

  • Films are long (from 40 minutes to 2-3 hours).
  • Effect of presence.
  • Identification with the hero and immersion in the plot

Movies can absolutely help with your mental health in so many ways.

Cinema benefits for mental health:

  • Providing a temporary escape from difficult times and situations
  • Using their storyline to help shine a light on issues in our own lives 
  • Give us an emotional outlet like a good cry or some hard belly laughs to help us release pent-up emotion.
  • Providing a low-stress way of reconnecting with our family and partner that can bring us closer to those we love 
  • Watching nostalgic movies can get a sense of familiarity and comfort during difficult times.  
  • Opportunity to work with your fears.
  • Inspiration
  • Develop empathy
  • See our inner strength.
  • Encourage to take action.
  • Support during grief or loss.
  • Examining character traits and behavior patterns.
  • Start the journey towards meaningful change in our lives.
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How does cinema therapy work?

As I said, cinema therapy is used in many ways in treatment. For example, some therapists use movies as part of their group therapy, while others assign movies and questions to individuals, couples, or families to watch before their next session. 

Movie therapy is a type of expressive therapy that allows you to tap into deep emotions and heighten your awareness of situations and experiences in your own life. 

Movie therapy is a good tool for therapists dealing with patients who have difficulty tapping into their own emotions, including individuals with depression and anxiety. 

There are three main types of cinema therapy: 

  • Evocative Cinema Therapy- uses movies that mirror the patient’s own life circumstances so they can start seeing the layers of what they are struggling with
  • Cathartic Cinema Therapy- uses movies and shows to help access emotions and feelings. Helpful for someone who may be suppressing emotions or having difficulty accessing them.
  • Popcorn Cinema Therapy- uses movies as escapism of difficult times (like depression or grief) or to create bonds and positive experiences between couples and families. 
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Does watching movies help with depression? 

 Someone struggling with depression may find little joy in the things they used to love. Watching cathartic movies like comedies and tragedies can help bring out repressed emotions that depression can sometimes cause. 

Movies can also offer an escape for someone with depression, where they can feel joy and laughter without depression stealing that feeling right away.  

Comedies are best for people with depression trying to reaccess their joy and laughter. Dramas can help the person get a good cry to release some of the pain in their depression. 

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Final Thought.

Cinema therapy is a great additional resource for all kinds of therapy, including individual, couples, and family therapy. 

It is perfect for people who are struggling to access their feelings.  

Many different movie types help people improve their mental health, including comedy, drama, science fiction, and musicals. 

If you are currently in therapy, consider talking to your therapist about adding cinema therapy to your treatment plan. 

Share this blog post if you enjoyed it. I would really appreciate it! 

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I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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Good Movie Finder


I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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