Tag: Cinema Therapy


Research Shows How Cinema Therapy Helps Reduce Anxiety

November 6, 2020
Cinema Group of Friends

Right now I imagine everyone is looking for ways to help them des-tress and reduce anxiety in this stressful year. Well according to Sorina Daniela Dumtrache’s article “The Effects of a Cinema-therapy Group on Diminishing Anxiety in Young People, cinema is just what we need. Today we are going to be looking over the details of Dumtrache’s Science Direct article. We will look at what methods the study used to explore its hypothesis and the conclusions the study came to. But first, let’s briefly summarise the study’s aims.


This study’s purpose was to identify how cinematic-therapy (use of cinema and/or movies to help with mental health issues) affected the personal development (namely the anxiety levels) of young participants. The study’s other purpose was building, enacting, and adapting a personal development cinema-therapy program to help its participants. But how did they plan on doing this and measuring the results?


This study used 60 subjects selected using cluster sampling. 30 participants were used in an experimental sample (focusing on using cinema therapy). 30 were used in a control sample (separate from the influence of the cinema therapy study). The participants were all between 19 and 22 years old.

The experimental sample divided into 3 groups of 10. They then met for 10 4 hour sessions across 3 months. The participants helped select the study’s movies based on how they generated reflection, identification, differentiation, and self-awareness in them. The films were further sorted into categories based on the issues they dealt with. Including childhood and family universes, couple relationships, social relationships, and relationships with yourself. And they used the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale Questionnaires, to rate how severe their anxiety was. The Hamilton questionnaire asks participants to rate the severity of certain feelings e.g. tension or depression on a 0 (none present) to 4 (very severe) scale.

Dumtrache then began the study, at the initial meeting before the cinema sessions, the experimental groups discussed the types of films they wanted to see as well as games they could use to test each other’s inter-knowledge and find out their problems and needs. There were then 10 cinema group sessions. These sessions began with the therapists instructing the participants to focus attention on one’s own inner moods and experiences. Then they watched the movies and afterwards looked at personal analysis and group awareness. The final session focused on feedback and used the Hamilton Anxiety Questionnaires to attain the group’s final anxiety levels.


After the researchers collected the data from the control and experimental groups, they used the “t-test statistical procedure” to test for the differences between the samples. And they found there was a more significant drop in anxiety levels with the experimental group than the Control group. Thus, showing that the use of films in therapy helped to reduce the participants’ anxiety.


The study’s research and methodology are somewhat hard to follow. But further research supports its findings. For example, Lee Powell said that group cinematherapy intervention is statistically and clinically effective at improving hope and optimism. Even individuals like our own Laura Huckle can attest to the healing power that cinema can have on our mental health.

Whether you’re watching films with a cinema audience or your friends and family at home, movies are a powerful force that can restructure and transform our lives. And especially with everything the world is going through, we need movies to help us relax. Now more than ever.

Also Read: Films That Have Supported My Mental Health

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Cinema Therapy: How Movies Can Heal

May 23, 2019

Movies are awesome! They can make us laugh or cry, transport us to a strange new world, or experience a period of history – sometimes all in the same film. With mental health awareness rising and becoming more important, the use of movies as a therapeutic tool is also on the rise. Recent studies have looked at the benefits of cinema for those with learning difficulties and mental health conditions, as well as how to accommodate them in standard cinemas.


The first MediCinema opened in 1999 with the goal of providing a chance for patients and families to escape their hospital surroundings and enjoy a cinema experience they may not have access to. The charity provides specially designed cinemas that accommodate wheelchairs and hospital beds, giving patients a chance to catch the latest releases.

MediCinema has opened a total of six cinemas since it began, with plans to double that number by 2025. However, as a charity, it relies entirely on fundraising. From charity events to advance screenings, the money all goes to funding and supporting the cinemas. Some of the organisation’s famous patrons include Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremey Iron, Ewan Mcgregor, Helen Mirren, and Simon Pegg.

Autism In Film

“Inside Out” follows five emotions, helping kids identify their feelings (Disney, Pixar, 2015)

As Autism awareness has increased, many cinemas have tried to be more accommodating to those on the spectrum. With the inclusion of Autism friendly screenings, films can be shown with various adjustments, such as a lower volume, no allocated seating and the ability to leave at any time.

Films can also help people on the spectrum understand things they may struggle with in day to day life, such as “Inside Out” and its personification of emotions, or Disney cartoons helping a child speak.

Autism is also seeing positive representation in many films, Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, who is on the autistic spectrum, in the “Fantastic Beasts” films, after discussing it with the film’s creator, JK Rowling. Many see Guardian’s of the Galaxy’s” Drax as on the spectrum. Even the Blue Ranger from 2017’s “Power Ranger” openly greets characters with his diagnoses. All of which are positive portrayals, with the characters in question being heroes and autism not being their defining trait.


“The Wizard of Oz” is a popular choice for cinetherapy (MGM, 1939)

Cinetherapy is the process of watching a film, relevant to a personal issue, and find some therapeutic benefit from it. One of the ways it helps is to somewhat “normalise” the condition. For instance, watching a film like “Room” can help people come to terms with PTSD, abusive relationships, and other conditions. All sorts of media can be used from “The Wizard of Oz”, episodes of the “X-Files” to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Films have such a widespread subject matter, that just about everything has been covered at some point.

This approach can help people with a vast array of mental health conditions, such as feelings of grief or transitioning to different stages of life. It’s about the use of metaphors and universal themes of films. Even just crying at film can be therapeutic, even if you have no experience of what the film is about. This is known as “popcorn cinema therapy“, an emotional release as a result of the film.

It is unlikely that cinematherapy would work on its own for deeper issues, as most practitioners use it in conjunction with other methods, but it is a useful and pleasant way of helping people come to terms with and express their problem, alongside other creative outlets.


As well as helping people deal with issues, films can also help to raise awareness of them to others, like the recently released film Five Feet Apart raising awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. Although most films based on true events take artistic liberties, the fictional version of events is the one people remember. However, they can still succeed in making audiences aware of the subject. For instance, The Theory of Everything, a biopic about Stephen Hawking and his struggle with motor neurone disease, raised more than £20,000 for a dedicated charity, as well as awareness of the condition.

Films are great for so many reasons and there is a lot to love about them. Everyone loves different films for different reasons, some of them may be a result of Cinetherapy, or because it highlights a key issue that is important to them. Others might just be because it made them cry or they really related to a particular character, whatever the reason, a night at the movies can make things better, even if it’s only for a little while

If you would like to donate to any of the charities mentioned in this article, follow these links:

Also Read: The Many Faces of Andy Serkis