15 October 2007

Cinematherapy:Is Watching Movies Beneficial to Your Mental Health?

Have you ever had a moment, at least once, asking yourself why you need to view movies from time to time? Well, maybe the major common denominator is people watch movies because they want to break free from their daily taxing routines, either alone or in group with friends, workmates, loved ones, or family members. Yes, watching movies is very rewarding because it is absolutely entertaining. In fact, it is not only entertaining but mentally therapeutic as well since it helps individuals maintain a psychological balance.

Just how does movie watching keep the human brain maintain mental equilibrium?

It becomes mentally therapeutic because it combats emotional imbalance by awakening both sides of the emotion. Remember? Laughter is the Best Medicine… We always associate a feeling of relief from negative emotions when we expose ourselves to films with comic plots. And for this reason we get to unconsciously and unknowingly trigger our positive emotion and overcome temporarily or completely the negative emotion prior to watching the film. What about movies with sad themes? Yes, they are also therapeutic for they provide avenues for people to cry which definitely permit them along the process to release excessive or transient negative mental detour, even if the scene or scenes which caused them to cry has nothing to do with their current negative feelings.

This momentary indulgence will, likewise, temporarily help people to forget their existing emotional conditions, may it be good or bad. In most cases the movies they watch will aid them depart from the real world by immersing themselves in the story line, circumstances or even with the characters. By further consenting themselves they can also at one point personally relate to the situation. Sometimes even locations where the film was shot allow viewers to travel in places they have never been, and that is unquestionably gratifying.

In all these processes we find ourselves eventually getting completely involved and we count every movie we watch as part of our learning routines. And as time goes by, these learning progressions become permanently part of our life experiences.

In today’s information age, psychotherapists are using films as therapeutic and counseling tools and technically call this emerging discipline cinematherapy. In the article The Process of Cinematherapy as a Therapeutic Intervention, Tyson, Foster, and Jones explained the process of executing cinematherapy and is cited at the cinematheraphy website which I came across with while developing this post. The site also pointed out that cinematherapy has many applications.

It can be used with individuals or with a group, and the movies used may address one issue or several. Therapists or counselors may assign a client or clients to watch an entire movie or a vignette from a movie. But, what may be the most effective way of using Cinematherapy is to watch a vignette with the client or group and then discuss afterwards.

History also suggests that cinematherapy, though relatively new, traced its roots from ancient Greek. This was eloquently elaborated in the article written by Cindy Jones at the History & Theory page of the same site.

Another article supporting the benefits of cinematheraphy was written by R. M. Dubuc. It discusses about how watching movies can improve mental health.

Finally, Dr. Gary Solomon, a Portland mental health therapist, author of “The Motion Picture Prescription: Watch This Movie and Call Me in the Morning.”... writes, "If you watch just one movie a week for the next two years, imagine the personal growth and recovery you could enjoy."


Afterthought
: The next time you watch a movie don’t think that you are just giving yourself a break. Consider it as a therapeutic indulgence and an inexpensive investment to keep you sane.

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