Pass the popcorn... And pass the family therapy session!


film Critic Roger Ebert once said:

Cinema is the most powerful machine empathy among all the arts. When watching a movie I can live somebody else's life for a while. I can put myself in someone else's place. I know what it's like to be a representative of the other sex, another race, another economic class to live in another time, have a different faith. It helps me to identify with them. This has a liberalizing influence on me. It gives me openness and a broader view…

And it might help us to create empathy with our partner in life.

a New three-year study showed that Ebert was right, at least when it was about the newlyweds. Can the movies be as effective as marital therapy?  the First years of marriage are the hardest, according to psychologist, University of Rochester Ronald Rogge. The divorce rate for newlyweds was more than twice reduced couples who watched movies about relationships and discussing them afterwards.

Study: Movies as marriage therapy

the researchers compared the "movie-and-talk" a form of marital self-help groups, receiving psychological counseling and information about how to improve communication in a marriage, and found interesting results (Rogge et al., 2013).

the study's Lead author, Ronald Rogge, said:

We thought that the therapy through film will help, but not as much as other programs in which we were teaching all of these skills.

And continued:

the Results show that husbands and wives have a pretty good idea of what they can do right and wrong in their relationship. Thus, you may not have to teach them a range of skills to cut the divorce rate. Maybe you just need to encourage them to think about how they behave in the present. And movies handle this amazing.

Movies as a couples therapy: Film + Conversation

the study compared three different types of marriage counseling and skills training:

Managing conflict;

Compassion and acceptance;

Control group:

Movie-and-talk: couples watched and discussed movies about relationships after receiving a 10-minute instructions about how watching movies can help them focus and be more sensitive to the effects of their actions on their relationship.

within three years, all members of the group did about the same in comparison with the control group.

It was a surprise for the group “cinema-and-talk”, given that participants do not feel that they receive treatment.

Rogge believed that the results obtained are of great importance, because in some pairs, you may not be able to attract a partner in family therapy. But when we are together watching a movie and discussing it from a half hour to forty-five minutes, it is not “scary”. This is less patologicum, less stigmatizers.

But Ronald Rogge there are some precautionary advice about the kinds of movies that are not appropriate. Too many romantic comedies show a humorous quarrel with unrealistic romantic resolution occurring only in the final fleeting moments of the film.

so what are the features that make watching the movie together potentially useful ?

the Films Rogge considered therapeutic, showed a couple in a long term relationship who are actively overcoming their differences throughout the film. Offering each other support, as well as suffering from controversy, but by continuing to climb. The effect of therapy comes from the quality of the conversation, as the pair compares and contrasts on-screen pair. This implies lack of hurry, to focus on addressing the question “ how I treat my partner?” - that is important.

Some of the films used in the study :

love StoryWhat we wereMr. Blandings builds his dream houseHusbands and wivesin Two waysgone with the windnever Better…and Adam's Rib.

What inspires is the fact that it is an activity that couples can do on their own, it is ‘window of the conversation» without stress and tension, which, as the study shows, can have for the newlyweds the same therapeutic effect as a therapy session for couples.

Therapists who specialize in working with couples, watching a significant evidence-based studies like this one to help their clients minimize bad habits relationships that lead to divorce, and maximize their ability to turn to each other.

Here is a link to instructions given to participating couples, and a full list of films used in the study.

In conclusion,  even if you are newlyweds, magic the right film can open a new conversation for you and your partner.


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