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Introduction to Cinematherapy Training

Introduction to Cinematherapy ELECTIVE

Introduction to Cinematherapy Online Course

ICT-400 Introduction to Cinematherapy

This course in a nutshell:

Discussion Topics: The four-step technique, theory, and intervention skills necessary to develop and facilitate a counselling program; contemporary films as a therapeutic intervention; treatment of various mental health issues relating to clients’ presenting concerns; therapeutic settings including psycho-educational workshops, counselling groups, individuals, and couples counselling.

Skills: You will learn to choose therapeutically appropriate films; facilitate discussion of the characters and events in the film using basic counselling skills; identify irrational beliefs, family dynamics, maladaptive life patterns, addiction and other symptoms depicted in the film that relate to clients’ presenting problem; develop outcome measures and needs assessment to test the efficacy of the therapy process.

Course Objective: Applied Skill Development

On-line delivery of Introduction to Cinematherapy (ICT-400) provides students with theoretical understanding and intervention skills necessary to facilitate a counselling program based on video therapy referred to in this course as Cinematherapy. Cinematherapy uses contemporary movies and films to depict and process various mental health issues with individual clients, small groups and classroom settings.


“Watching a movie with conscious awareness can be similar to experiencing a guided visualization. The therapeutic effect and the theoretical basis for both modalities are therefore closely related. In fact, the use of films in therapy allows us to draw from multiple theoretical psychotherapeutic orientations.

In cognitive-behavior therapy movies are used in combination with the established modalities of this field. Films can fulfill the role of a supportive device for understanding maladaptive core beliefs and for cognitive restructuring. Cognitive insights tell clients what to do but affective insights give them the motivation to follow through.

Behavior modification treatment can be supported by watching movies where a character demonstrates courage in face of a challenge. The client becomes motivated to copy the behavior seen on screen and is more open to successfully undergo treatments such as "exposure with behavior avoidance prevention".

Systems oriented therapists can find support for their approach by choosing movies that communicate unfamiliar concepts of family systems and their dynamics as well as communication patterns.

Identifying with a character can help clients develop ego strength as they recall forgotten inner resources and become aware of the right opportunity for those resources to be applied. As clients identify with a film character they see their own issues unfold. This brings to life issues they previously wanted to avoid.

Viewing characters in combination with the subsequent reflection in individual or group therapy allows clients to process their feelings with a sense of increased safety. Understanding reactions to characters, who are "different" and unlikable, can guide the client to discover in the "shadow" of their own psyche and story their true self and their potential. Watching movies at home in this context serves as a bridge between therapy and life.

The cognitive effect 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 intrapsychic (inner guidance). In addition films galvanize feelings, which increase the probability that clients will carry out new and desired behaviors .” (Wolz, Brigit, Ph.D., internet article, 2006: “Cinematherapy - Using the Power of Movies for the Therapeutic Process” www.cinematherapy.com)

This course provides students with an understanding of the following t opics:

--the four-step Cinematherapy counseling process,

--theory and intervention skills necessary to develop and facilitate a counselling program based on the Cinematherapy model.

--why contemporary films facilitate therapeutic intervention.

--appropriate therapeutic settings including psycho-educational workshops, counselling groups, individual counseling for adults or youth, & couples counselling.

--theoretical basis and the counselling process, which underlie the Cinematherapy model.

--outcome data demonstrating the usefulness of the cinematherapy approach.

The following clinical concerns are examples of the kinds of issues that can be addressed using Cinematherapy for otherwise, highly-functioning clients.

--Symptoms of depression,

--Symptoms of anxiety,

--Coping with mental disorders,

--Cultural identity issues,


--Unresolved grief,

--Family dynamics,

--Sexual and/or physical abuse issues.

--Eating disorders,

--Marital problems,

--Parenting issues,

--Developmental issues relating to specific age groups.


What you will learn:

Your level of proficiency and competence with the skills introduced in this course will deepen as you proceed through the program. Upon graduation from the Diploma or Certificate program, you may include the following skills as part of your Professional Portfolio:

  • The ability to utilize recognized therapeutic modalities as you facilitate the Cinematherapy process.
  • The ability to preview and select appropriate films to address the client’s presenting issues.
  • The ability to facilitate discussion of the characters and events in the film using basic counselling skills such as advanced empathy, active listening, exploratory questioning, empty chair techniques, role playing, art therapy, and guided imagery.
  • The ability to identify irrational beliefs, family dynamics, maladaptive life patterns, addiction and other symptoms depicted in the film that relate to clients’ presenting problem.
  • The ability to develop various needs assessment methods to identify the presenting concerns and cultural diversity of target populations.
  • The ability to develop outcome measures to test the efficacy of the therapy process.
  • Ability to assess clients as to their level of functioning, risk for suicide or self-harm, in order to make appropriate referrals and identify appropriateness of the client for this type of intervention.
  • The ability to apply the Cinematherapy model to a wide variety of complaints in otherwise, well-functioning clients who present with symptoms such as anxiety symptoms, feelings of depression, interpersonal conflicts, damaged self-esteem, unresolved losses, maladaptive behaviors, guilt, and addictions.
  • Ability to recognize personal issues, attitudes and beliefs that may be triggered as you view the films. These and other professional/personal issues to be addressed in supervision.
  • Ability to recognize the therapeutic impact of the experience of viewing and processing a film as it affects the therapeutic alliance and or group dynamics.
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