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Film Therapy

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Film Therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which commercial films or videos are selected for the client to watch alone or with specially trained personnel (Whu, 2008). It is an innovative and therapeutic way of therapy and intervention. A therapist uses films to promote introspection, mental and physical healing, and transformation. In Ancient Greece, it was also used as a type of catharsis. Film Therapy is perhaps one of the oldest therapy modalities available to stressed-out, psychologically disturbed, and neurotic persons. Film Therapy is a term that refers to the use of films to treat persons who have neurological and mental health disorders. It operates similarly to music therapy. It harmonises the patient's bio-mental rhythms and improves their physical and mental well-being (Jethwani, 2009). Cinema therapy s strength lies in the symbolic allusions made by each film. Metaphors describe or compare two items or concepts using words or symbols. On the other hand, cinematherapy encourages individuals to view film clips and feature films emblematic of their own lives. Through drama, individuals can explain their worried sentiments through film sequences in counselling sessions. Film therapy is a subcategory of psychotherapy.

Bibliotherapy is the process of assessing and clarifying literary works therapeutically in order to help clients heal and connect. (Sinetar, 1993) was one of the first experts to support the idea of using cinema as a tool for personal development. Numerous self-help books are written in an effervescent tone to assist readers in self-healing. (Peske & West, 1991) explored how women select and prefer the most appropriate film for therapeutic viewing pleasure, allowing them to connect with their situation. However, this approach can aid any demographic in selecting an appropriate film. An increasing amount of literature recognises and attests to films educational and therapeutic effects. (Shepard & Brew, 2005) have referred to and advocated using Hollywood films as an instructional tool for educating marriage and family therapy (MFT) students about relationship counselling concepts. However, the growing acceptance of cinema as a therapeutic tool in counselling proves effective in both the client and counsellor's life. Viewing specific films may assist a client in confirming his or her experience by exposing them to similar scenarios and occurrences. By watching films and discussing the plot and themes, the protagonist s perspective and perception, and the moral dilemmas depicted in some films, the therapist and the client can gain admittance of important allegorical information for the client or the participant (Solomon, 2001).


Additionally, it enables both the client and counsellor to be aware of their different roles in the counselling process and their lives in general. Due to individual differences, viewing and responding to film sequences is highly subjective. On the other hand, counselling supports clients in identifying their problems and encourages them to build more effective coping mechanisms or strategies for resolving them. Adolescents also use media for various purposes, including self-identification, stress management, and self-categorisation into social groupings. Arnet et al. (2008, pp. 12-15) encourage teenagers and college students to view their television viewing as a source of information. Considering the visual medium also implies that they learn and react similarly to film characters.


However, the most crucial factor for therapists in cinema therapy is that the films picked must be neutral toward the client s ideas and cultural diversities and effective enough to aid in the treatment s success. It is vital to match clients with films relevant to their issues to have a good therapy session (Dermer & Hutchings, 2000). It enhances the therapeutic value of the counselling process. Due to the study s focus on late teens enrolled in educational institutions, one of the programmes employed in the classroom is the Student Success Skills programme (Webb & Brigman, 2007). It emphasises metacognitive and self-management education, self-mentoring, self-efficacy, automatic thought, muscle relaxation, and roleplaying. The intervention adopted in this study also incorporates psychoeducational components. Extraction of events to comprehend film sequences includes more than simply getting schemas for real-world events. The context in which humans encounter a concept affects their comprehension. Levin et al. (2013, pp. 244-266) asserted that the so-called Theory of Mind is required to comprehend film scenes and, more precisely, characters, their actions, intentions, and ambitions. The theory of mind is a set of cognitive representations of what humans believe, require, desire, intend, and feel due to their interactions with others and their environment. It begins in early childhood when children recognise that others have an interior existence akin to yet distinct from their thoughts and emotions. Levin also explained how basic comprehension of film characters actions and emotions requires knowledge of the theory of mind, commonly known as mentalising (Tan, 2018).

In Therapy, Films expose viewers to symbolic behaviour patterns and attitudes directed toward teenage clientele. Observing and understanding the film s message is a kind of observational learning (Rosenthal & Steffek, 1991). (Schuleberg, 2003) recommended that extra caution is required to assure the 'technique's effectiveness. Mindful Mesmerisms follows the three-stage guideline to Film Therapy:

  1. Assessment: Assessment encompasses the whole process, and participation (engagement) is critical for the success of any intervention, and cinematherapy is no exception (Christie & McGrath, 1989). (Heston & Hesley, 1998) proposed asking customers to identify with and describe the kind of films they usually love. (Schuleberg, 2003) describes the process of evaluating clients to use a film as an intervention, including determining the client s presenting issues and therapeutic objectives. They assess clients' strengths (i.e., hobbies, interests, occupation, and activities), assessing their capacity to comprehend the content of the film and identify parallels and contrasts between themselves and the characters. They also consider culture, race, ethnic origin, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, and gender while selecting a film.

  2. Implementation: (Wu A. Z., 2008) Once a therapist has matched a client with a suitable film, the therapist may assign the film as homework or show it during the session. Therapists should always see the film before assigning it to clients and be prepared to justify watching the video and deciding which subsystems should watch it. A worksheet with clear directions and an explanation of the intervention's advantages also helps guarantee that teenagers (or family members) attend the session or finish the homework assignment (Schuleberg, 2003).

  3. Debriefing: Following the clients viewing of the film, the therapist must examine their emotions. It acts as a platform for discussing the ideas and sentiments elicited by the films to improve the message that might assist future customers (Dermer & Hutchings, 2000). By addressing the client s overall perception of the film, the therapist validates the client s perspective on the film. The therapist might adjust his or her beliefs and perceptions regarding the film s relevance to the clients difficulties based on input from the clients (Schuleberg, 2003)

    Cinematherapy may be offered in various ways depending on the therapist's style and theoretical orientation to be more successful and appealing to clients (Wu A. Z., 2008). Film therapy can be a complementary approach used alongside other therapeutic modalities or as a standalone intervention. It can be used to address various psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, relationship difficulties, and personal growth.It's important to note that film therapy should be conducted with the guidance of a trained mental health professional who can provide appropriate support, facilitate discussions, and ensure that the process remains therapeutic and beneficial.

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