Therapy And Movies: Some Examples

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Therapy And Movies: Some Examples

If you haven’t seen it, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out is a wonderful film.  Funny, innovative and intelligent in bringing to life those voices in your head: joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust.

In the face-to-face and online therapy world it is believed that pathos and humour in movies about mental illness can be an encouraging thing, because they help us laugh and/or cry while also learning something about a mental disorder or relevant issues, even if that lesson is a simple as supporting someone through their treatment.



Watching movies encourages emotional release. Even those who often have trouble expressing their emotions might find themselves laughing or crying during a film. This release of emotions can have a cathartic effect and also make it easier for a person to become more comfortable in expressing their emotions.

Here are some films with a focus on therapy:

What About Bob (1991)

Before going on vacation, self-involved psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) has the misfortune of taking on a new patient: Bob Wiley (Bill Murray). An exemplar of neediness and a compendium of phobias, Bob follows Marvin to his family’s country house.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975)

In order to escape the prison labour, McMurphy, a prisoner, fakes insanity and is shifted to the special ward for the mentally unstable. In this ward, he must rise up against a cruel nurse, Ratched.

The Fisher King (1991)

A former radio DJ, suicidal and despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.  A masterclass from Robin Williams.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Will Hunting, a genius in mathematics, solves all the difficult mathematical problems. When he faces an emotional crisis, he takes help from psychiatrist Dr Sean Maguireto, who helps him recover.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

The American biographical drama film based on the life of the American mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics and Abel Prize winner. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman.

Ordinary People (1980)

Tormented by guilt following the death of his older brother, Buck, in a sailing accident, alienated teenager Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) attempts suicide. Returning home following an extended stay in a psychiatric hospital, Conrad tries to deal with his mental anguish and also reconnect with his mother, Beth (Mary Tyler Moore), who has grown cold and angry, and his emotionally wounded father, Calvin (Donald Sutherland), with the help of his psychiatrist, Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch).

50 / 50 (2011)

Inspired by a true story, a comedy centred on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.

Girl Interrupted (1999)

Set in the changing world of the late 1960s, “Girl, Interrupted” is the searing true story of Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder), a young woman who finds herself at a renowned mental institution for troubled young women, where she must choose between the world of people who belong on the inside — like the seductive and dangerous Lisa (Angelina Jolie) — or the often difficult world of reality on the outside. 

Antwone Fisher (2002)

After a brutal flare-up with a sailor, Antwone Fisher, a Navy officer, is sent to psychiatrist Dr Jerome Davenport. Eventually, he finds new hope in life after coming to terms with his painful past.

The Prince of Tides (1991)

A New York psychiatrist treating an emotionally scarred woman finds it helpful to discuss her South Carolina family’s troubled history with the woman’s twin brother. He and the psychiatrist find themselves drawn together by their equally turbulent pasts, and they form an alliance which ultimately leads to romance.

Inside Out (2015)

Eleven-year-old Riley moves to San Francisco, leaving behind her life in Minnesota. She and her five core emotions, Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness, struggle to cope with her new life.

Therapy And Movies: Some Examples


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