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Video: Film Therapy: Can Cinema Replace Psychotherapy? - Self-development, Society
Conversation of two women:
- Sorry, I can't talk to you for a long time! I must run home - a new episode of my series will begin soon!
- I see … What are you looking at?
As an answer, sounds some little-remembered name of a domestic low-budget series, which are now proliferating on cable television. But the interlocutor explains:
- It's about love. There are such intrigues! Such women's fates are interesting! One main character reminds my mother, and in another storyline, the relationship is just like my ex-husband. I wonder how it will end!
- Serials are good, but lately I've been watching more old comedies. The mood is not very good, but here you will see something funny, it seems that optimism is added!
Obviously, the "magic power of art" consists in evoking certain emotions in people. And these are not only aesthetic experiences "about beauty". We identify with the characters in films, especially if they are somehow similar to us, and we begin to empathize with them.
Even if we evaluate the film as a whole as "complete nonsense", then its individual elements (scenes, plot twists, actors' play) can still emotionally "catch" us. As A. Pushkin once accurately noted: “I will pour tears over fiction”.
How similar it is to my life
If we see something on the screen that intersects with our life experience, with our needs and dreams, emotions take on special strength. This is no longer just empathy for fictional characters, it is catharsis. Catharsis is an emotional cleansing response. The film gives us the opportunity to experience to the end and exhaust what we may have missed in the past or forbade ourselves to experience in the present.
Usually, catharsis is attempted in the patient during psychotherapy sessions. To do this, the patient remembers and tells the therapist his story. But it turns out that catharsis can arise as a response from the listener, reader or viewer to a similar story. This "responsiveness" of the human psyche allowed the development of a whole group of art-therapeutic areas: bibliotherapy, psychodrama and film therapy. The latter arose relatively late (in the middle to the end of the twentieth century), which is naturally associated with the development of new media: the film industry, television, the Internet.
How can cinema help?
Can watching an interesting TV series or your favorite comedy be considered psychotherapy? Partly yes. Watching comedy can really help improve your mood and reduce stress. Comedies are often recommended by psychotherapists as a means of obtaining positive emotions for those who lack them (for example, with depression or increased anxiety).
Series (and even talk shows) "about relationships" can help in rethinking and re-evaluating similar situations in our lives. But the question will always remain open about the depth of this new understanding and about the strength of the experienced catharsis.
Real cinema therapy is always a group work. It is a structured exchange of views and feelings guided by a therapist. Participants discuss the film, comparing their experiences. Some have shared associations and memories. In addition to coincidences, differences are also revealed in the process of dialogue. Sharing different points of view helps the participants get a broader and deeper picture of the psychological problem that is reflected in the film. The group becomes a kind of collective psychotherapist, enhancing the emotional effect of the film (catharsis) and helping to draw conclusions "for real life."
Some kind of movie therapy can be arranged while watching a movie with friends. The minimum requirement for such a movie show is the willingness of the participants to openly express their feelings and listen to each other without criticism.
You can initiate a discussion with simple questions:
- What is the film about, what is its main idea?
- Which hero did you like / dislike and why?
- What scenes or episodes made the most impact (positive / negative)?
- How realistic is the film, and what lessons can be learned from it?
It is clear that “home cinema therapy” will not replace professional, but the therapeutic effect can be stronger than from watching a movie alone.
And one last thing … On the net you can easily find lists of films for cinema therapy. They can be used as a starting point, but individually tailored films will be the most useful in solving your psychological problems. You can take your time with the selection of helping films, but if you manage to put together your own "first aid kit", it will be able to help you overcome life's difficulties for many, many years.