Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 handwiki -- 1826 2022-11-21 01:34:39 |
2 format correction Meta information modification 1826 2022-11-22 10:14:41 | |
3 format correction Meta information modification 1826 2022-11-23 09:38:52 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
HandWiki. Cinema Therapy. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 15 June 2024).
HandWiki. Cinema Therapy. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 15, 2024.
HandWiki. "Cinema Therapy" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 15, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 22). Cinema Therapy. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Cinema Therapy." Encyclopedia. Web. 22 November, 2022.
Cinema Therapy

Cinema therapy or movie therapy is a form of expressive therapy - like art, music and dance therapy - for medical and mental health issues. It is also used as a form of self-help. Cinema therapy was created and popularized by Dr. Gary Solomon, the first to write on using movies as therapy. The movement started to catch up again in 2019 with the featured documentary "Calypsonians" by director Anghelo Taylor, unlike the creation of Dr. Gary Solomon, Anghelo Taylor wrote the CinemaTherapy Manifesto, that starts with one simple principle "In order for cinema therapy truly exist the filmmaker must have an internal search, question or problem to solve inside himself but that relates with the rest of humanity or with specific community. Once the filmmaker and his crew engage in the process of filmmaking, they start healing by the revelation and situations that happen along the process of making a film. In the end, the result of that process will be a medicine for all the viewers as human beings. But everything starts with the deep intention that the filmmaker has when making the film"

mental health movie therapy cinematherapy

1. Definition

Cinema therapy is defined by Segen's Medical Dictionary as:

A form of therapy or self-help that uses movies, particularly videos, as therapeutic tools. Cinema therapy can be a catalyst for healing and growth for those who are open to learning how movies affect people and to watching certain films with conscious awareness. Cinema therapy allows one to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on the psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change. Used as part of psychotherapy, cinema therapy is an innovative method based on traditional therapeutic principles.[1]

There are several types of cinema therapy, with varying degrees of entertainment and therapeutic value. Popcorn cinema therapy is primarily cinema entertainment, that may result in an emotional release. Evocative cinema therapy, helps individuals connect with story lines and the movie characters. In the process they "learn about themselves in more profound ways." Cathartic cinema therapy helps a person access their emotions, for instance if they are in a depression, and may be used early stage in psychotherapy.[2]

2. Overview

Cinema therapy is the use of cinema or movies to manage medical, mental health, and life management. It has been used as a form of self-help and to aid in inmate rehabilitation.[2] Cinema therapy has been said by its proponents to change individual's thoughts, feelings and ability to manage life events.[2] Movies are used in some prisons to help individuals understand what led them to commit and be convicted of crimes.[2]

After viewing the movie, it is recommended to assess one's reaction to the movie, such as: What did you like or not like about the movie? Who did you find to be attractive and unattractive characters? Was there someone in the film that you'd like to be more like?[2]

Like art, music and dance therapy, cinema therapy is supplemental means of therapy to be used within traditional therapy, according to Dr. Bruce Skalarew, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. He is also co-chair of the Forum for Psychoanalytic Study of Film.[2]

Cinematherapy (one word) as a form of self-help for women using a variety of movies was popularized by the humorous series by Nancy Peske and Beverly West. Cinematherapy inspired a wraparound television show of the same name on Romance Classics (later Women's Entertainment).[3]

3. Films or Movies

Examples of cinema therapy categories and movies are:[4]

Category Movie Other themes
Addiction 28 Days (2000) Alcoholism, starting over
Gia (1998)  
Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Alcoholism, suicide, fired or laid off
The Panic in Needle Park (1971) Self-destructive romance
When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) Alcoholism, marriage
Domestic violence or rape The Accused (1988) Haunted by the past, redemption, social injustice
Enough (2002) Stalkers
Frankie and Johnny (1991) Haunted by the past, romantic relationship struggles, starting over, workplace romance
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) Haunted by the past, stalkers, starting over
Thelma & Louise (1991) Revenge, self-discovery
Obsessive–compulsive disorder As Good as It Gets (1997) Love, opposites attract, redemption, romantic relationship struggles, unlikely friendships    
Matchstick Men (2003) Cons and scams, fathers and daughters, therapy
What About Bob? (1991)  
Romantic relationship struggles The Accidental Tourist (1988) Haunted by the past, opposites attract, starting over
Pretty Woman (1990) Cinderella stories, opposites attract, prostitutes
The Way We Were (1973) Crumbling marriages, opposites attract
Stanley & Iris (1990) Death of a partner, opposites attract, teachers and students
When Harry Met Sally... (1989) Faltering friendships, opposites attract, single life

Other categories include coping with prejudice, childhood trauma, eating disorders, suicide, family issues and relationships, loss, psychological thriller, and gay and lesbian relationships.[4]

4. Clinical Outcomes

Beyond the entertainment value of leaving isolated hospital wards to view films, it is increasingly believed that patient's recovery is improved by viewing "feel-good" films, or ones that make the patient laugh.[5]

Adams and McGuire (1986) found that elderly residents living in a long-term care facility reported feeling less pain after watching humorous movies and required less non-scheduled medication than the control group who watched a nonhumorous movie. However, Adams and McGuire did not discuss whether or not participants took part in additional therapies as a part of their daily routine. It is possible that additional therapies may have contributed to the decrease in pain and in effect would threaten the internal validity of the study had they not controlled for the additional therapies.[6]

Dumtrache (2014) conducted a study that explored the use of cinematherapy in a group setting and its effectiveness on diminishing anxiety in young people. She found a significant drop in anxiety between those in the control group and those in the cinematherapy group. The methodology, however, raises questions regarding the study’s validity. The sample was chosen based on a cluster sample of students who expressed their desire to take part in a development group focusing on movies – making it a pseudorandom sample. The fact that students expressed their desire to take part in such therapy may have affected the outcome.[7]

Gary Solomon, PhD, MPH, MSW, and author of The Motion Picture Prescription and Reel Therapy states that viewing television or film movies "can have a positive effect on most people except those suffering from psychotic disorders."[2]

A study conducted by Eg ̆eci & Gencöz, concluded that watching the movies alone does not induce insight and change. There are however insight-inducing effects when a therapeutic session is held afterwards, allowing for the participant to “[deepen] the perceived connections between the movies and the participants’ relationship problems enable them to pass through the stages theoretically expected to induce change” (2017). These findings seem to suggest that simply watching certain movies identified to help with various issues does not in fact produce therapeutic change. However, holding in-depth therapy sessions following, may help to facilitate insight via emotional connection and identification to certain aspects of the movie, which gives the therapist a chance to probe and promote emotional/behavioural change.[8]

5. Programs

5.1. MediCinema

MediCinema is a UK-based registered charity that places cinemas in hospital buildings and screens films for patients, caregivers and family members during the patient's hospital stay. The first installation was the St Thomas' Hospital in London in 1999. It allows individuals to leave what can be isolating rooms and wards for a period of entertainment.[9][10]

Another of the other complexes is at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. The Health and Welfare Director at the Royal British Legion, Sue Freeth, stated "Rehabilitation is not only a huge physical challenge, but involves recuperating mentally as well. This excellent new facility will assist our brave Service personnel in doing just that."[11]

5.2. Chicago Institute for the Moving Image

Chicago Institute for the Moving Image (CIMI) uses creation of films as a means for therapy for individuals in therapeutic care with depression, amnesia, schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses. Writing, producing and directing movies "provides a certain amount of therapy, organization, and order that people with psychological diseases need, and it helps the therapist see what the conflicts are within their patients lives," said CIMI's executive director, Joshua Flanders. The end result provides a view of the filmmaker's world and has resulted in "enormous breakthroughs".[2]

5.3. Film/Video-Based Therapy

Joshua Lee Cohen, author and co-editor of Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice (published by Routledge in 2015), helped to establish a collaborative effort in forming Film/video-based therapy. This form of therapy is about making films with clients, as opposed to cinema therapy which is about watching films. Dr. Cohen also hosted a seminar for Dr. Solomon at Colorado College in 1997. Dr. Cohen was inspired by Dr.Solomon's work to build on the concept of cinematherapy. Dr. Cohen began searching for ways to make films for therapeutic purposes and eventually sought out others who used film/video as a part of psychotherapy. He then wrote his dissertation on the subject and eventually published an academic book mentioned above.[12][13]

5.4. Perception Enneagram Mirror Neurons

The Center for Studies of Psychology of Art and Expressive Psychotherapy has been studying for years the benefits of Psycofilm method, combining Psychology, Sensory analysis, Enneagram (C. Naranjo) and Mirror Neurons (G. Rizzolatti), with poetry, art and writing. Since the past 10 years the Center has been hosting an event dedicated to the Venice Film Festival and the Rome Festival. Enriched by the viewpoint of experts from different and complementary fields, this special event let us explore the international filmography as an exciting journey. The main texts had seen the contribution of several audiovisual arts experts, like Agiscuola. CONSCOM, MiBACT, intellectuals, academics and critics of international figures, including Giorgio Pressburger, Roberto Barzanti, Juan Octavio Prenz, Graham Cairns, Maciej Stasiowskj, Ernesto G. Laura, Alberto Fasulo, Maurizio Lozzi, Catello Masullo. They all outline the Psycofilm method and they report the beneficial effects of the Psycofilm on Alzheimer's patients and cancer patients. The event also seek to promote culture - and the culture is good. The last of the lyrics from the title "Nostoi Ritorni Cinema Comunicazione Neuroni Specchio" edited by Paola Dei Editions Altravista Preface of Nicola Borrelli" has been proclaimed one of the best essays of 2015 in the Albo d'Oro.

5.5. Il Metodo Psycofilm®️ Perception Enneagram Mirror Neurons

An innovative method that uses cinema for prevention and rehabilitation, conceived by Paola Dei, with the participation of the Center for Studies of Psychology of Art and Expressive Psychotherapies, has been validated by experiments througth scientific tests and published in international scientific magazines. The Method makes use of the principles of Rudolf Arnheim's Psychology of Art, the discovery of mirror neurons by Giacomo Ruzzolatti and his team and Claudio Naranjio's theory of personality. Expert at the oncology department of Campostaggia - Azienda USL Toscana Sud Est, oncology department directed by Dr. Angelo Martignetti, with the collaboration of the Valdelsa Donna Association, the method has shown how through a filmic path lasting one year, the stress level in the participants of 50/60%. Partly experienced also with Alzheimer's patients at ASP city of Siena, he has produced a book entitled: Le favole dei nonni. Giving a voice to Alzheimer's with art therapy.


  1. "Cinema Therapy definition from Segen's Medical Dictionary". Free Dictionary - Medical Dictionary. 
  2. "Movie Therapy: Using Movies for Mental Health: Therapists recommend movies to help change the way we think and feel.". Web MD. 
  3. Dempsey, John (2000-02-09). "'Cinematherapy' on couch" (in en). 
  4. "Psyho Cinema". Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Florida Institute of Technology. 
  5. Rupert Hamer (4 January 1998). "Coming Soon To A Hospital Near You...". Sunday Mirror (London, England: MGN Ltd.). 
  6. "Is laughter the best medicine? A study of the effects of humor on perceived pain and affect.". Activities, Adaptation, & Aging 8: 157–167. doi:10.1300/J016v08n03_17.
  7. Dumtrache, Sorina Daniela (2014). "The effects of cinema-therapy group on diminishing anxiety in young people". Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 127: 717–721. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.342.
  8. Eğeci, İ. Sine; Gençöz, Faruk (2017). "Use of cinematherapy in dealing with relationship problems". The Arts in Psychotherapy 53: 64–71. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2017.02.004.
  9. Karen Shead (16 June 2003). "MediCinema puts a new take on hospital therapy". The Scotsman (accessed via HighBeam Research) (ECM Publishers, Inc.). 
  10. "Medicinema - Big screen therapy". JuniorDr. 
  11. "New MediCinema to Help Rehabilitation at Headley Court". States News Service (accessed via HighBeam Research). 17 May 2013. 
  12. "Cinema Therapy: Using the Power of Movies In the Therapeutic Process, Online CE (continuing education) Credit Hours for psychologists, MFTs, psychotherapists" (in en-US). 
  13. "Search Results". Taylor & Francis. 
Contributor MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to :
View Times: 1.1K
Entry Collection: HandWiki
Revisions: 3 times (View History)
Update Date: 23 Nov 2022
Video Production Service