Why Cinema Therapy
© Birgit Wolz
Why cinema therapy works
One aspect of most movies is that they serve as allegories, in much the same way as do stories, myths, jokes, fables, or dreams which can all be utilized in therapy. The cognitive effect of cinema therapy can be explained through recent theories of learning and creativity, which suggest that we have seven "intelligences". The more of these intelligences we access, the faster we learn because they employ different methods of information processing. Watching movies can engage all seven of them: the logical (plot), the linguistic (dialogs), the visual-spatial (pictures, colors, symbols), the musical (sounds and music), the interpersonal (storytelling), the kinesthetic (moving), and the intra-psychic (inner guidance).
Mythic stories explain the purpose and place of humans in the grand design. Many films contain a mythical message that reminds us of our virtue and our authentic self.
"Mining the gold" in movies means uncovering our hidden finest attributes by understanding how we project these virtues on film heroes and heroines. Identifying with a character can help us to develop inner strength as we recall forgotten inner resources and become aware of the right opportunity for those resources to be applied.
Like dream work, cinema therapy allows us to gain awareness of our deeper layers of consciousness to help us move toward new perspectives or behavior as well as healing and integration of the total self.
This inner work is a form of "modern-day shamanism", where we find a way to our soul that makes sense to our mind. Just as in poems, music, and literature, studying film's symbolic and deeper meanings empowers us by helping to integrate emotions, intuition and logic, and therefore blend our rational and "irrational" processes.
Understanding reactions to characters, who are "different" and unlikable can guide us to discover in the "shadow" of your own psyche our true self and our potential.
As observing helps us to "step back", the bigger picture becomes more obvious. This way, watching screen movies helps us learn to understand ourselves and others more deeply in the "big movie" of our life. We develop a skill to see our self and the world more objectively — with less of our habitual rigid, judgmental, or emotional filtering.