There’s just something about movies, books, and songs that get into our heads and hearts in a better way than talk therapy.

Often I have my clients tell me about their favorite movies because it gives me insight into their worldview. Just the other day a client told me her favorite movie was Farenheit 451. As she described the story  (all the people living in a town where books were banned, memorized parts of a book so it wouldn’t disappear), I told her that the theme was common to all the things she had told me in our earlier sessions. The movie mirrored her fears of being invisible and disappearing.
As soon as I pointed this out, my client burst into tears.

In addition to having clients tell me about their favorite movies, I often suggest movies for them to watch. I ask them to journal about characters that remind them of themselves or their family.

Here are just a few of my favorites movies and their corresponding theme:

  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – Boundaries
  • Antwone Fisher – Childhood Abuse
  • Prince of Tides – Violence in family of origin
  • The Mermaid Chair – Women Who Lack a Sense of Self (ego)
  • Mr. Jones – Bipolar disorder
  • Thirteen – Teenage depression
  • Fatal Attraction – Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Lars and the Real Girl – Loss/Fear of intimacy
  • Good Will Hunting – Childhood abuse/Learning to trust
  • Reign on Me – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • The Story of Us – Marriage/Divorce
  • When a Man Loves a Woman – drug and alcohol addiction/codependency

Here are a few more links that list many movie ideas and the theme related to counseling:

http://www.zurinstitute.com/movietherapy.html#phobias

http://www.cinematherapy.com/filmindex.html

I would love to hear movies that touched you and related to a theme you might see in a counselor’s office. 


Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."