Cinema Therapy; Recreation Therapy Intervention in Mental Health

Posted: February 19, 2019 by Starr LaMonde, CTRS

Cinema therapy is the process of using movies as an intervention to promote therapeutic outcomes. Cinema is an art form that allows the viewer to learn, understand, relate, and grow from watching other characters maneuver vulnerable situations. Much like music and poetry, cinema can have an effect on a person’s attitude, mood and improve introspection/insight.

This type of therapy may be used as emotional release and relaxation. While comedies allow us to divert from rumination about our stress and laugh for awhile.

When watching movies as a type of therapy, it is important to select appropriate titles that relate to what the individual is experiences. Therapeutic content may include addiction, self harm, depression, OCD, grief, abandonment, abuse, bipolar or psychosis.

Movies that relate to mental health;

  • 28 Days (2000)
  • About Schmidt (2002)
  • Antwone Fisher (2002)
  • As Good As It Gets (1997)
  • Bucket List (2007)
  • Cider House Rules (1999)
  • Dead Poet Society (1989)
  • Field of Dreams (1989)
  • Girl Interrupted (1999) R
  • Good Will Hunting (1997) R
  • I Never Promised You A Rose Garden (1977) R
  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • Nell (1994)
  • On Golden Pond (1981)
  • Ordinary People (1980) R
  • Radio Flyer (1992)
  • Rain Man (1988) R
  • Reign Over Me (2007) R
  • Scissors (1991) R
  • Shadowlands (1993)
  • Shine (1996)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) R
  • Steel Magnolias (1989)
  • Sybil (2007)
  • The Color Purple (1985)
  • The Decedents (2011) R
  • The Fisher King (1991) R
  • What Dreams May Come (1998)
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

I’m taking suggestions for more movies that cover mental health issues that could be appropriate to show in a mental health facility. Feel free to comment your thoughts.