For: Claremont Behavioral Studies Institute,
250 West First St., Suite 352
Claremont, CA 91711

Contact: Brian R. Johnson, Ph.D.



Claremont, CA, September 22, 1998----People who have personal problems often look for answers by talking to friends, reading self-help books and syndicated columns, and by listening to talk shows. Another source of help, which is often underutilized because people don’t normally think of it as anything more than entertainment, is cinema---the movies.

Dr Brian R. Johnson, a clinical psychologist who has both a personal and professional interest in movies, notes:

If a movie relates to something we are personally dealing with at the time we see it, watching that film can help us in the process of coming to terms with whatever it is we are having a problem with. By the sheer fact that for a brief moment our lives are drawn into a different world that is often very vivid and absorbing, movies can have a powerful impact. A movie viewing experience can stimulate our feelings and our thinking so that after we’ve seen the film our lives have been touched and we have been affected. Think of the impact Saving Private Ryan is currently having on people.

While few films have caused as strong a reaction as Saving Private Ryan, the fact is that many films have impact and can cause people to think about themselves, others, or problems in a way different from the ways they would have had they not seen the films. Therapeutic Cinema (available at is a new film guide available on the Internet that has particular psychological importance.

Dr Johnson has for years given patients "homework" assignments of watching certain films that touch on issues that they are working on in psychotherapy. He has also used movies with groups of hospital mental health patients to stimulate awareness and growth. "This has been a very effective tool that supports the psychotherapy process," Dr Johnson notes.

Therapeutic Cinema
lists movies in 20 different subject categories including Falling In Love, Change, Friendship, Guilt, and Matters of Trust. Each includes an introductory description of the subject and a statement about each film listed. There are also reviews, from a psychological point of view, of movies recently released on video and of Classic Films including Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz. Because of the nature of Web publishing, new movies (and new subjects) are continually being added to Therapeutic Cinema.

Return to Therapeutic Cinema