The healing power of ‘film therapy’: How watching movies can improve mental health, boost empathy


Many people take pleasure in sitting down to look at a very good movie due to the way in which films could make us really feel. A tragic movie would possibly assist us launch our feelings or a comedy would possibly carry our temper. Motion pictures also can provide an opportunity to attach with and discover our feelings in a secure manner.

Due to the impact that movies can have, there’s rising curiosity in utilizing them as a therapeutic instrument. Though this area continues to be very new, my assessment of the analysis thus far exhibits that movie remedy can be effective at serving to individuals course of tough feelings – which can assist enhance psychological well being.

I discovered that movie engages people emotionally in ways in which can be therapeutic. Speaking about film characters can really feel extra snug than discussing points immediately because it provides the particular person some emotional distance from what they’re going by way of. Movies also can assist individuals be taught life skills from how film characters deal with their challenges.

My assessment additionally discovered that movie remedy reduced conflict between mother and father and youngsters, elevated empathy and dialogue between them and helped enhance communication abilities. It’s additionally proven to reduce anxiety and make remedy extra interesting.

Movie remedy was additionally proven to be significantly helpful to sure teams of individuals. For instance, analysis confirmed movie remedy might help young autistic people establish their optimistic strengths and construct resilience. It will probably additionally assist psychiatric patients categorical their ideas and emotions. One other research additionally discovered that watching and discussing superhero movies allowed younger individuals identified with schizophrenia to seek out power and that means within the difficulties they face.

However as analysis on this area has simply begun, will probably be necessary for continued analysis on this area to discover how individuals have interaction with films to help their well-being and who most advantages from movie remedy.

How films might help

Aristotle famous that audiences of Greek tragedies appeared to undergo a helpful means of emotional purging (or catharsis) by way of empathy with characters. Watching films and TV works in an identical manner, providing a secure house to really feel and categorical feelings with out experiencing real-world implications.

Movie brings collectively images, story, metaphor and music – all of that are proven to have therapeutic advantages. Motion pictures and TV are additionally accessible and may provide one thing acquainted and simple to speak about as a foundation of remedy conversations.

However whereas analysis exhibits movie remedy will be helpful, there was little steering on how greatest to make use of movies in remedy. So after conducting my assessment, I developed a way that attracts collectively present analysis and apply to create a sequence of steps for reflecting on films that can be utilized in remedy or by yourself.

Woman watching TV or movie in bed
(© StockPhotoPro –

I referred to as it the “Movie method”, which stands for conscious engagement, observing responses, voicing expertise, figuring out private relevance and exploring new potentialities. Whereas working with a therapist is really helpful when you’re experiencing psychological well being difficulties, anybody can use the Film methodology to attach extra mindfully with the movies and TV exhibits they watch.

Step one of the Film methodology entails a conscious test to contemplate the way you’re feeling – and if it is a good day so that you can have interaction with the film you’ve chosen. Think about the impact watching or reflecting on the film may have.

If it feels okay to go forward, mindfully observe and see your ideas, emotions and bodily responses as you watch. Step again out of your emotions with out judging them slightly than getting swept together with them.

After watching the film, voice or title any feelings you’re feeling. Writing these down will be helpful. Be inquisitive about your emotions, noticing you probably have a bodily sense of sure feelings in your physique – comparable to stress or rest. Generally after we discover a sense, it might change. You can too take into consideration what the sensation wants (for instance kindness or understanding) and imagine receiving this.

Subsequent, establish what the film means to you. Discover who you recognized with and the way the character’s journey would possibly remind you of your individual challenges and achievements. Whereas films can provide perception into the lives of various teams and cultures, simply make sure you think critically about how these characters or points are portrayed. This might help stop reinforcing stereotypes or inaccurate representations.

Think about how the film might help you to discover new potentialities and methods for development. Take into consideration how film characters solved issues and something you may be taught from this. Discover hyperlinks between the film story and your private story and when you would change the story or write a sequel. Mirror on studying from the exercise that you could be take ahead.

The subsequent time you sit down to look at a film, take into consideration how one can take advantage of the expertise. Making use of movie remedy strategies might provide help to have interaction extra mindfully with what you’re watching, and should provide help to be taught new issues about your self in consequence.The Conversation

Article written by Jenny Hamilton, Senior Lecturer in Counselling/ Psychological Therapies/ Program Chief for MSc Counselling, University of Lincoln

This text is republished from The Conversation below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the original article.

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