How To Respond To A 1-Star Review With No Comment Life at the Movies – The Art of Cinema Therapy

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Life at the Movies – The Art of Cinema Therapy

More and more counselors are turning old-time American movies into an effective therapeutic tool. I personally incorporated the use of cinema therapy with clients informally over five years ago. However, in the last two years I have started to use it more consistently as an adjunct to treatment planning. The films deal with a range of life issues that are suitable for all ages, cultures and backgrounds. In the ongoing debate, does life imitate movies or do movies imitate real life? One thing is clear: movies deal with many of our common problems. Some very practical answers and life choices are available in the 90 to 180 minute reel. Therefore, films often give clients insight into their own lives.

After seeing Field of Dreams in 1989, If you build it, they will come became my slogan for the year. Those words of inspiration and hope encouraged me to step out in faith and achieve many goals. I’m sure I’ve seen the movie over 20 times and every time is like the first time. I was overwhelmed with emotions. I filled out the list of things I needed to build in my mind. Sitting in that dark theater, tears streamed down my face as I recognized the many things I wanted to do but was afraid to risk. I slipped past my friend, stepped into the aisle, rushed to the back of the theater and cried like a baby. Every now and then I rent a video to remind me to follow my heart, to hear the voice inside and to keep moving forward. The film had an incredible healing effect. As clients connect with different characters, they can recognize similarities and differences in their stories. This is often a great bridge from reel to real.

People watch movies: Cinema is a global phenomenon, watched by millions of people around the world. It has a strong influence, consciously or unconsciously, on people’s behavior. A 1993 Variety survey reported that worldwide box office receipts totaled $8 billion, and that home video rentals were also a lucrative business. Of the 100 highest-grossing films, 88 were American productions. We go to the cinema for different reasons: some for magic, others for meaning. Movies can provide entertainment or a temporary escape from our reality. They can be relaxing or exciting, and for many they have become a way of coping. As therapists and counselors, we can make use of these readily available and readily available old sources.

What is Kinotherapy?

Cinema therapy is the use of films (current releases or videos) by counselors as a therapeutic tool in the healing process of clients. It is not a discipline that requires specialized training, like art or music therapy. However, this should be done by a mental health professional skilled in processing clients’ cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses. Depending on the client, the concept can be introduced formally or informally at two different points during the treatment. The first opportunity comes during the initial assessment when collecting historical data. Most new clients usually indicate changes in behavior (especially in leisure activities). At this time I ask, what do you do for fun? Or do you like movies? This is also a way of establishing a relationship with the client. I briefly share my interest in movies, their positive therapeutic value, and that other clients have benefited from the experience. Another opportunity to introduce cinema therapy is when the client discusses information that reminds the counselor of a particular film or video. I share some similarities in story, viewpoints/opinions and suggest the client to look into it. We then plan to discuss his or her reaction at the next session.

Life is longer than movies: although the world of life and fiction are similar, they are also very different. Films often cover the continuum of development from childhood to adulthood. Realizing that movies can cover the entire lifespan in approximately two hours, clients should be warned that they may need more time to implement the solution than to watch. The real world doesn’t always come neatly packaged. We do not know what will finally happen in our lives. We can, however, become interested in fictional characters, find out what happens to them, and gain insight for our own problem-solving. Clients are usually able to point out how someone else should have handled the situation. Then they will explain what they would do differently. Films serve as catalysts that encourage discussion that leads to transparency and disclosure.

Movie to Real: When clients watch movies, they draw comparisons with their actual knowledge of human behavior and what seems plausible, likely, or consistent for a person to respond in a given situation. If the client decides that the emotions of the actors in the film are appropriate and believable, given the circumstances of the storytelling, he or she can share the emotions of the characters through empathy. Clients also engage in a complex set of judgments about the moral and ethical acceptability of on-screen behavior and sequence of events. As a result of uncovering them, you will be able to determine strengths and weaknesses in how the individual processes information as well as his or her ability to abstract, reason, and gather insights. When a client is watching a film for use in cinema therapy, there are several categories that can be used as catalysts to encourage the person to think about their problems. Five are mentioned here: Listen to one-liners (eg, There’s no place like home The Wizard of Oz; You can’t handle the truth; A few good people; Make my day Dirty Harry; May the force be with you Star Wars) . Look for themes (eg facing your fears, revenge, starting over, extending forgiveness). Observe relationship dynamics (eg, obsessive-compulsive, codependency, weak boundaries). Identify significant problems (abuse, anxiety, marriage, chronic illness). Give each movie a biblical test by asking, does the movie show a violation or application of Scripture?

Assigning movies as homework: If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the value of a movie. When movies are assigned as homework, the counselor should have a clear goal. Ask yourself what I hope to achieve with my client through this film? Cinema therapy is not just watching movies, but watching with a purpose. The selected films should address issues (Figure 1) that the clients face or should be based on their areas of interest (eg action, drama, romance, comedy, western, science fiction, fairy tales, etc.). Advisers should be cautioned that the film’s rating system (G General Audience, PG Parental Guidance, PG-13 Suitable for Teens, R Restricted/Not Allowed to Under 18s Without Parent or Guardian) does not always accurately reflect the content of the film. Make sure you watch the film first and advise the client about material that may be objectionable or offensive (eg profanity, nudity, explicit violence). Good judgment should be used. Ask yourself again, is the film clinically, spiritually and age appropriate? Clients can watch the first movie at a local cinema or rent a home video. Both places have advantages.

In the theater they have viewing on a wide screen and without pauses (interruptions). The benefits of home video include the ability to pause and replay certain scenes as well as viewing in the privacy and comfort of your home. Whichever location your customers choose, ask them to fill out a movie review form (Figure 2). Apart from the obvious, clients can be moved by various subtleties in the film. Be prepared to address concepts that the client may identify that you did not intend to address. Clients can also watch a movie and not want to discuss it. There is no need to pressure something to happen. Documented information from the Film Review can be used in a later session. If the client watched the movie, he or she was affected (positively or negatively). Reality sets in the case of Caroline In the practice of cinema therapy, I have found that reality-based, rational-emotive and behavioral approaches are the most effective. This does not limit the use of other theoretical orientations preferred by some counselors. Below is a brief synopsis of a case study using a reality-based therapeutic intervention in combination with physical therapy.

Caroline is a 38-year-old mother of three girls between the ages of 5 and 10. She recently divorced a physically, verbally and spiritually abusive narcissistic, bipolar man. During one of our sessions, Caroline discussed how her husband was impulsive and obsessive. A few things she said reminded me of the movie As Good As It Gets. Before I said the similarities, I asked her if she had seen the movie and her thoughts on it. To my surprise, she hated the movie (I’ve seen it five or six times and recommended it to several other clients). It was a great moment. Caroline became angry as she said the film felt unrealistic. She was worried that Helen Hunts character would marry Jack Nicholson’s character because he was charming but could forget his character flaws. Then Helen would end up like Caroline, 10 years later, wondering how she had missed the obvious signs of dysfunction. As a result of domestic violence, Caroline suffers from low self-esteem and severe depression. This was the first time she had expressed a strong opinion about anything. Just then, at the session, we discussed the questions from the Film Review List. This opened the door through which we could work more efficiently. Caroline was not angry at the movie, but at herself for her poor judgment and wrong choices. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed of her situation, she withdrew from others (even those who cared about her well-being).

The film helped Caroline admit that even though she was deeply hurt, she needed to connect with people in order to heal. At the same time, she needed to establish new patterns of relationships. She was also challenged to answer the question What if this is the best she can do? Caroline began to assess her current reality and ask additional questions, such as Who am I? What have I learned from my past experiences that can help me in the present? What do I want from life? What do I want from relationships? Will my current behavior help me achieve my desired goals? What am I willing to change? During treatment, Caroline began to accept personal responsibility for her life and come up with a plan. He learns to dare and trust his new knowledge. Find a therapist to get solutions to your problems.

While kinotherapy can be used with a wide range of clients, it is not recommended for people with serious psychiatric disorders. Counselors should be aware that viewing certain actions in a film may cause clients to relive their pain. Be sensitive. Instead of assigning films as homework, film clips (5 to 10 minutes) can be watched during the session. Then the content can be processed immediately. Kinotherapy is an underutilized intervention that I believe will grow in popularity as its application and effectiveness are better understood. Our lives can be viewed as one long film without pause. Consider the story of The Truman Show. Meeting a new client is like walking into the middle of a movie. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what’s going on, even when the client is giving flashbacks. Using Kinotherapy is a way for counselors to engage clients in non-threatening ways as they share the twists and turns of their stories.

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