by Tres Adames, M.Div.
If you mention the idea of using movies therapeutically, you might get the image of a newly single, distraught girl in her twenties watching a romance film while crying and stuffing her face with ice cream. It might seem laughable at first, but in reality movies, and more than that, story helps us cope with life.
There's nothing like a good story.
Our lives can easily seem overly complex and confusing and story allows us to escape, relate, and find a reference point to relate with. Donald Miller really expounds on this idea in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Yet not every story is equally good. Those stories that are well crafted and embody the true art form of storytelling can even touch reality to the point that it actually transcends it and explicates on its meaning. Stories inspire us to live better lives. They help us live a better story of our own. According to Miller,
“It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks at it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear those stories, and how happy we are to repeat them.”
Stories help us cope.
Whether it comes in the form of a movie, a novel or a television episode, story has the capacity to not only move us, but also move us to action. When I was in seminary, in a counseling class, the professor urged us to fill our minds with stories. He told of the remarkable power of application that comes from applying other stories to our lives and the lives of others. From that point on, I looked for great films that would speak to the struggles I was going through at the time. I was healing emotionally from a lot of things in the past and having stories I could relate with on a deep level helped me tremendously.
One such book and movie that enabled me to heal was Ordinary People. There were others as well, but this one impacted me the most. In counseling and guiding others, I’ve often “prescribed” certain movies to others based on whatever struggle they were dealing with. A good site to check out, Cinematherapy.com, offers many suggestions.
Stories inspire us and help us live, but no greater story than the archetype—the story of God’s redemptive plan in reconciling the world to Him. That is the primary story with which we will find true meaning and lasting peace.
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