Turning Love for Movies into Fun, Learning & CE Credit Hours

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

We offer five courses related to this topic:

Cinema Therapy (4 CE Credit Hours)
Cinema Therapy with Children and Adolescents (5 CE Credit Hours)
Positive Psychology and The Movies (5 CE Credit Hours)
Boundaries and the Movies (6 CE Credit Hours)
Therapeutic Ethics and the Movies (6 CE Credit Hours)


“If one person came home from the movie theater, just one, and saw somebody screaming at empty air on the street corner and related to them differently with understanding, then we would have done our job.”
        –Akiva Goldsman (screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind)

Movies have been widely used for therapeutic and educational purposes. Lately the popular literature, academic articles and dissertations have increasingly focused on the use of movies in psychotherapy.



Films are particularly well-suited as an adjunct tool in therapy and at depicting psychological phenomena and ethical dilemmas because:

  • The combination of images, music, dialogue, lighting, camera angles, and sound effects in a film mimic thoughts and feelings that occur in our consciousness. The viewer experiences what a character sees and feels.
  • Movies have become the great storehouse for the images that populate the collective unconscious.
  • Many consider movies to be the most influential form of mass communication, because the spectator enters a form of trance, a state of absorption, concentration, and attention, engrossed in the story and the plight of the characters.
  • The camera carries viewers into each scene. Because they perceive events from the inside as if surrounded by the characters in the film, the characters do not have to describe their feelings.
  • Absorbing information through film descriptions brings an entertaining element into the therapeutic or learning process. When we enjoy ourselves, we become emotionally engaged. We heal, grow, and learn more easily and effectively.
  • The diagnosis of mental disorders and the discussion of ethical and legal themes is usually taught using written or oral techniques and material, although using this material can be dry and tedious. Our attention is more engaged when movies are used as a teaching tool, because of our affective response to the vicarious identification with movie characters.
  • Because popular movies sometimes distort or exaggerate diagnostic symptoms or behaviors in therapeutic settings, they provide material for fruitful discussions and, at times, produce extra learning material.
  • Without concerns about confidentiality, we become privy to a character’s inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations for illustrative “case discussions”.


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