The Cinema Therapy Newsletter #51

August 2013

starIn the Spotlight:

The term Cinema therapy has now been defined in the Wikipedia in the following way: "Cinema therapy or movie therapy is a form of supplemental therapy - like art, music and dance therapy - for medical and mental health issues. It is also used as a form of self-help." This page also talks about clinical outcomes, lists examples of cinema therapy categories and relevant movies, and mentions books for clinical intervention and self help.

Check out the Youtube video Beeban Kidron: The shared wonder of film, in which this British film director Beeban Kidron invokes iconic film scenes and explains how movies have the power to create a shared narrative experience and to shape our world.


New editions to the Professional Directory are
Michael Blumenfield, Los Angeles, USA
Antonio Roma-Torres, Porto, Portugal
Burcu Sevim, Turkey
Please write me if you use movies in your therapeutic work and would like to be added to this directory.

The Wikipedia offers a List of films featuring mental disorders.

The 10 Best Movies About Substance Abuse were posted by the Christian Rehab Center.

Urtheinspiration lists the top ten movies of all times in Movie Therapy, Part 1 and MovieTherapy, Part 2.

Moviewise writes in Movie Therapy: 5 Great Movies, 5 Powerful Life Lessons: "... great movies with characters and stories that are worth emulating, and with valuable lessons that can help you feel more joy.

Movie clips are available on

The Cinematherapy Network is "a cooperative, a launchpad and a conduit for all things cinematherapy. We fuse and unite people with distant telemedicine professionals and local therapists and give them access to curated content – online, in theaters, on television, on mobile devices and beyond".

starOnline Courses and Programs:

New Online Course

Birgit Wolz

DSM-5: Diagnoses Seen in Movies: Using Movies to Understand Common DSM Diagnoses
Movies are particularly well suited to depict psychological phenomena. The combination of images, music, dialogue, lighting, camera angles, and sound effects in a film mimic thoughts and feelings that occur in our consciousness. The viewer experiences what a character sees and feels. Since characters in many popular films portray persons who live with mental disorders, these depictions offer a unique learning opportunity.
This course provides up-to-date information about common DSM-5 diagnoses by exploring the most relevant changes in the diagnosis of psychopathology from the DSM IV-TR to the DSM-5. It offers an effective tool to help clinicians use the DSM-5 for effective treatment planning, and for communicating with colleagues as well as with insurance companies.

Cinema Therapy Certification Programs

1. For information about all Cinema Therapy online courses click here.
2. One certification program is designed for mental health professionals - click here.
3. Another, shorter, certification course can be taken by anybody (no prerequisites required) - click here.

- Upon completion of a program, students will receive a ready-to-be-framed certificate of completion for their course of study, "Cinema Therapy."
- These programs can be completed in more than one session over a three-year period.
- Continuing education credits can be earned with either program.

The certificate programs are composed of individual courses, which can also be taken separately.

Continuing education credits are available for all courses for Psychologists (APA), MFTs & LCSWs (CA-BBS), Social Workers (ASWB) and counselors in California and other states. Click here for more information.


Elina Pantaleon is a counseling psychologist who is currently working in Athens, Greece. She writes about her dissertation (M.S. program in Psychology and Counseling at the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) titled, The Therapeutic Potential Of Films: A Qualitative Exploration, the following:
“My research explores the therapeutic potential of films from the therapist’s point of view, adopting a humanistic framework. Since this is a new area of study and interest, the present study contributes to filling a gap in the existing literature.
I aimed to address qualitatively the topic of how films can be used in therapy in benefit of the client and for that reason I interviewed six practicing therapists who incorporate films in their work.
I owe sincere and earnest thankfulness to the participants of this study; Bernie Wooder, Birgit Wolz, Fuat Ulus, Michael Kalm, Gary Solomon and Sue Waring. Without their willingness to participate in my research and share their views, this dissertation would not have been possible. The interviewees described how films can be used in psychotherapy and presented examples.
Three salient themes were identified throughout the research.
Firstly, films help therapists in getting to know the client and facilitate the therapeutic relationship.
Secondly, films open up a space to talk, enabling the communication between the therapist and the client, or the communication between the client and his/her important others, or in group therapy between group members.
Thirdly, clients benefit from films’ demonstration possibilities.
Moreover, it was emphasized that films cannot take the place of therapy but on the contrary, films serve as an insightful, entertaining and inspiring feature of the therapeutic process.
In a word, films are a valuable tool in the armamentarium of the therapist and appear to be helpful for clients”.

starNew Blogs and Websites:

Jeremy Light writes in his article,Time for Movie Therapy: "Apparently the field of mental health has caught up with Hollywood, or allowed Hollywood to catch up with it. ... The personal connection with the characters in a motion picture, analysis of their actions, good or bad, and the stories serve as a kind of mirror for those seeking help."

In his article, 8 Movies That Changed Movies, Jake Rossen focusses on significant evolutions in the art and business of movies.


On March 11, 2013 - during the Xinis Education Festival 2013 - Elina Pantaleon gave the talk, Cinema therapy – the art of cinema as a form of therapy, at the School of Psychology at the Mediterranean College in Athens, Greece.
Elina writes: "The workshop was attended mostly by psychology students and was very successful, judging from their positive feedback. The public was first introduced to the concept of cinema therapy and had various questions on how films can be used when practising psychology, either in one-on-one therapy sessions or in group therapy sessions.”

Kevin Gaudette introduced Cinema Therapy as part of his presentation at The 30th International Conference on English Teaching and Learning (May 18-19, 2013) at the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan. The title of his presentation was Electracy/Neurocinematics/Edutopia/Wikinomics: Synergy for Success.

Correction: In Cinema Therapy Newsletter #50, I reported that 2009 Hospital de São João started to use Cinema. This hospital is in Porto, sometimes known abroad as Oporto, not in Lisbon.


Jeremy Clyman

In his article, Unraveling the mind through film, Jeremy Clyman reviews several movies by focussing on their effects on the viewers. Examples are: Lincoln: A History Lesson in Healthy Goals, End of Watch: This Movie Is Better Than Braveheart, and Flight: Why Heros are Drug Addicts Too.

Cedric Wood

In CINEMA THERAPY 'The Bling Ring' shows what can go wrong Cedric Wood writes: "Conscience: a sense of right and wrong that governs our thoughts and actions, urging us to do right rather than wrong. 'The Bling Ring' is the true story of a group of teens in Los Angeles who went on a burglary spree in 2008, stealing clothes and jewelry, or 'bling,' from homes of the rich and famous, most notably Paris Hilton".

Birgit Wolz

Silver Linings Playbook (Trailer)

Director: David O. Russel
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti
Screenplay: David O. Russel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, John Ortiz, Robert De Niro, Jonathan Gordon
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 2012


The protagonist Pat Solitano, a charming and volatile young man, who was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, has just been released from eight months in a psychiatric hospital into the care of his mother, Dolores.

According to the DSM-5, Pat's condition is called "bipolar disorder" because of the transition between the poles of mood states. Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when a person has both manic and depressive episodes, while bipolar II disorder is reserved for those who have primarily one or more major depressive episodes, with occasional (at least one) hypomanic episodes. The terms that are highlighted here in bold letters point to the reasons why Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

He is vibrating with intensity as he arrives at the family home, armed with new knowledge about his disorder, required visits to a therapist, and medication he does not want to take. Soon after he settles down in his attic room, he throws a Hemingway book out the window while he rages against the negative ending of A Farewell to Arms and gets into an abrasive exchange with his dad.

A few days later, Pat talks to his therapist Dr. Patel Pat about the downward spiral that had led to his hospitalization: Coming home early from his high school teaching job, he had found his wife Nikki in the shower with another man. Enraged, he beat Nikki’s lover nearly to death.

Obsessed with the delusion that he will win back his wife, who had taken out a restraining order against him, he spends a lot of time running around the neighborhood to keep in shape and burn off some of his manic energy.

Pat soon meets his match in Tiffany Maxwell a sultry and feisty young widow who has issues with depression and acting out. The result is an edgy and unpredictable attraction. But Pat is so obsessed with restoring his marriage that he cannot see the potential gift in front of him. Tiffany is both sly and in-his-face about her determination to get Pat into her life.

First she sneaks up on him during his eccentrically outfitted runs and flies off the handle when he responds to her. Later she offers to deliver a letter to Nikki, if in return he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man.

At the end of this movie, Pat is able to let go of Nikki. Eventually, he confesses to Tiffany that he has loved her from the moment he met her but has taken a long time to realize it. They kiss and become a couple.

The depiction of bipolar disorder in this movie is sharp and engaging. The protagonist is surrounded by more of the same: family and friends who are odd, confused, and obsessive themselves, but also warm and forgiving and unembarrassed by eccentricity.

Koplewicz writes about this movie in his article, Silver Linings Playbook: An Irreverent But Real Look at Mental Illness:

“Part of the message of the movie is that it takes a lot of mutual support for people to be their best selves, whether or not mental illness is involved. And that if we're not afraid of mental illness, and we don't try to hide it, we can help people manage their symptoms and live up to their potential. It's when Pat realizes who his real love interest is that he is motivated to take his medication and give up his delusions.

The movie also places Pat's struggles in an interesting context. His father, played by Robert DeNiro, is a Philadelphia Eagles obsessive with full-blown rituals and a history of outbursts at games that have gotten him banned from the stadium. You find yourself thinking there's a familial element to Pat's disorder, genetic loading of some kind.

But the theme of sports rituals and superstitions helps make a bigger point: that in the broad spectrum of human behavior, the dividing line between what's considered normal and what's not can be pretty hard to discern. This comes into focus most forcefully in a funny scene in the parking lot at an Eagles game, where even Pat's mild-mannered Indian psychiatrist is wearing face paint and getting pumped up. When the pregame partying degenerates into mayhem, Pat, who is the one with the diagnosis, is the last guy to succumb to the frenzy.”


starThanks for reading. I encourage and welcome feedback.

Birgit Wolz, Ph.D., MFT
Author of E-MotionPicture Magic
Loch Lomond, CA, USA