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Where movies are for therapy

Sunday, 18 November 2012 - 10:07am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

When patients can relate to characters in movies and pour their hearts out, it has a cathartic effect on them.

Meet Sunil Bolar, a 38-year-old patient diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder over two decades ago. When nothing was helping Bolar recover, a movie Sybil came as a relief. Reel therapy worked instantly and the results were seen in a couple of week. Today, Bolar’s condition has not only improved, but he is all set to get back to a career in event management. Bolar was diagnosed with bipolar, manic depressive, and schizoaffective disorders. After years of unsuccessful attempts at treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse, Bolar was advised to watch a movie named Sybil.

“On October first week, I watched the movie for the first time. I could instantly relate to the movie. A discussion with the doctors followed where I was able to talk my heart out. It lifted a great burden out of me and today, I feel much more productive,” he said.

Bolar watched the movie thrice and is a changed person now. He understands that lifelong treatment is required, and that supported living is a necessity for him. He does not refuse medication. There is more to it. Bolar, who was into event management before getting admitted at the Cadabam (a home for psychiatric patients) now actively involves himself in various event management activities of the home. “Reel therapy can be used as an adjunct tool in psychotherapy. Reel therapy works for many. However, it may not work for all clients. In the same way, it is not possible to classify that it works for people with a specific psychiatric problem and not with the other. It is important to observe the changes in insights and behaviour of the client,” said Dr Neha Cadabam, psychologist with Cadabam.

At the moment, Cadabam is the only organisation practising reel therapy in a structured manner on a regular basis. “A few days ago, we had a session with a group of residents who have recovered; we screened an animation movie—How to Train Your Dragon. The movie helped in escalating self-esteem among the patients,” said Dr Cadabam.

The organisation is also planning to start reel therapy with its de-addiction group. “We have shortlisted a movie called 28 Days, which will be screened twice a month. After each screening, we are planning a group discussion with the de-addiction group on how each of them relates themselves to the movie and this will help us in a better understanding of their problem and in treatment,” she added.

It is not required that all movies have a therapeutic impact on the client. The impact of various movies also varies. Hence, it is subjective to each client as to which movie impacts how much and how many movies would be required to be therapeutic on a particular client, she added.

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