E-motion Pictures

“Cinema therapy is the process of using movies made for the big screen or television for therapeutic purposes,” says Gary Solomon, PhD, author of The Motion Picture Prescription. An increasing number of therapists are prescribing movies to help their clients explore emotional issues such as: grief, love, anger and sadness. Our Cinema Therapy co-facilitator and resident movie buff, Christina Pettinato, has some thoughts to share about a few of her favorite films. Enjoy!

In Good Health,

E-motion Pictures by Christina Pettinato

Christina PettinatoDid you know therapeutic release can begin simply with watching a movie? A movie’s plot, dialogue, visual display, character relationships, music, and special effects are intricately woven together as a powerful catalyst to elicit deep feelings. Furthering this thought, we can also reflect on ourselves and the lives of others. Increase means of self help, thinking, living, and societal change. Ultimately, it takes courage to dabble in this rich form of self exploration and to have movies to support this acts like a cushion for discovery.

Emotional expression isn’t as easy as we think. As this may come naturally for others, we see some who become stuck. Just like in the movie “Antwone Fisher,” Antwone’s mental struggle illustrates how emotions can take ahold of us and inhibit us from functioning in life. Antwone expresses deep insecurities and hurt by becoming socially isolated. With the aid of therapy, Antwone’s self resiliency is illuminated and he becomes emotionally free. Through life’s challenges, hardships, and suffering there is always the underlining feeling of hope. With Antwone’s story we are entrusted with the fact that hope exists no matter how emotionally entangled we find ourselves.

Cinema Therapy GroupThis idea of hope is also seen in “The Green Mile.” This movie furthers the idea of hope by introducing the act of the human spirit and inspiration. John Coffey, a man on death row, finds good in the human spirit even though he is going to be executed for a crime he did not commit. He treats others with a kind heart and is true to himself to the very end. As the observer we easily connect with his character by embracing how unfair his life’s end has become. We are encouraged to be fair to ourselves and others because we see how our actions can severely effect others.

Sometimes we need movies to hit a different note. Like in the movie “A League of Their Own.” This movie not only illuminates woman empowerment, but the multidimensional characteristic of the womanly role, and the evolution of leadership. We learn we are not alone in trying to adjust to the inevitability of life role changes. Dottie’s belief system, her ability to sustain confidence in times of question, and to persevere in the face of possible defeat drives us to believe if she can do it, so can we. Our ability to live through our chosen mission, become our own visionary to complete a desired outcome through extreme adversity can be inspiration for us all.

Cinema Therapy GroupThe Blind Side” creates the perfect environment to display the raw experience of feeling alone and not to belong. We all at times feel as if we are not fitting in or not following the right path. We question our decisions and fall back into routines because it is all we know. Michael’s journey shows this throughout the movie, but this is highlighted when he leaves the Tuohy family and returns to his old home. Michael‘s will power to change and take a risk to improve his life’s purpose serves as a motivator for us all.

If you enjoyed reading Christina’s insights and thoughts on some of her favorite movies, why not join her in September for Pittsburgh Psychotherapy Associate’s new Cinema Therapy Group! Movies can be a catalyst for growth, change and healing, and we will explore new ways of watching films that will resonate with members long after they leave the group. Visit our Wellness Classes Page for details:  www.pghpsychotherapy.com.

From the editing room,

2 thoughts on “E-motion Pictures

  1. Thanks, Dale! I appreciate your thoughtful words and couldn’t agree more! The theraputic value of creativity, no matter the medium, is crucial to our understanding of what it means to be human. Films, when done right, have the potential to illuminate some of our higher, more compassionate attributes such as courage and love.


  2. Excellent Christina. Watching moves has therapeutic value and influences change for the betterment of society – for the most part… It’s a healthy dose of medicine…


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