The Therapeutic Power of Movies

August 4, 2020

We understand the world around us best in story form. Therefore, it is not surprising that powerful stories can change how we understand ourselves. An entire field is devoted to using movies to help people. It’s called cinematherapy.




One of the best application of cinematherapy is to replace those awkward pre-wedding therapy sessions with your minister. My aunt pointed out the hypocrisy of her priest giving her marriage advice. Not only did he not have a long-term romantic relationship, he didn’t even manage his own money! (Money, sex and children are the biggest relationship stressors). At the very least it is difficult to discuss touchy matters like money and sex with someone whose good opinion matters to you.


The beauty of premarital cinematherapy is that there is no third wheel in the room. The couple watches a movie that shows a long-lasting relationship and then talks about it. Seeing how the characters dealt with their issues, in healthy or unhealthy ways, often leads to insight on the behavior of people close to you.


Example Questions to Ask:

Which character did you empathize the most with?

What other options did the heroine have to deal with her problem?

How do the hero and heroine communicate? Is the unvarnished truth always helpful?

What made the supporting actress a great friend?

Does the motivation of the villain matter, or just his actions?

Do you think the outcome from the hero’s actions were realistic?

If you had a friend in a similar situation, what advice would you give them?


Any decent drama has the potential to start great conversations. Action movies tend to center around external problems we don’t have (although if we ever do have an alien attack, now you’re prepared.)


Great Movies & Shows to Start with:

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Other Woman


Before Sunset

The Kids are Alright


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