Film/Video-Based Therapy

Video and FIlmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice Edited by Joshua L Cohen and J. Lauren Johnson with Penelope Orr and a Foreword by Cathy Malchiodi

For a free webinar on this book: please visit

This website is intended to create a collaboration between filmmakers, psychologists, anthropologists, psychiatrists, and art therapists in forming a discussion about the use of film and video based therapy. The content of the webpage is intended to be an appendix to the book Film and Video as Therapy:Research and Practice, to be published by Routledge in 2015. To order the book, please visit the following website


In addition to promoting the book to help raise awareness of this intervention, we hope to gain feedback on the blog by facilitating communications with those interested in fostering the growth of this concept through questions, concerns, and/or ideas.  



Please feel free to explore the space within the webpage and ask questions on the blog.


This interactive space is meant to stir up questions as well as to inspire creativity and rethinking what it means to be a creative therapist


The use of film and video in/as therapy has a decades-long history in practice. Early work in this field included the post-World War II use of experimental, non-narrative films to calm veterans suffering from shell shock, and the 1970s saw boys in a group creating short films together to foster group cohesion, mastery skills, and better communication. With the advent of portable video equipment in the 1970s, female artists began turning the camera on themselves, making them the object of their own gaze. The precursor to the selfie’ Despite this fact, there is a dearth of literature on the theory and practice of using film/video production as therapy and the multidisciplinary practitioners who support its use. Copious literature exists discussing the use of several related media in a therapeutic context, such as photography, writing, drawing, music, and drama, but this body of literature is virtually vacant of film/video as a therapeutic medium. Despite the fact that there is little writing in this area, numerous practitioners from around North America and Europe are quietly working in this area – often independently, as the community of practitioners in this field is still quite small and geographically scattered. In an effort to build community among film/video-based therapy practitioners, and to introduce our work to others in our broader practice and research communities, we introduce this edited book on the theory and practice of film/video-based therapy. Representing the fields of anthropology, psychology, and art therapy, and perspectives as diverse as psychodynamic theory, and narrative theory, this book is the quintessential introductory resource for film/video-based therapy. This anthology is intended as an introductory foundation for the broad array of work we do in this exciting field, and is intended to introduce, justify, and explicate our practice to a broader audience.



                 Although our names are credited as the editors of this collection, we received a great deal of help in this task by Penny Orr whose expertise and advice were so deeply appreciated throughout the entire editing process for her many hours spent poring over our manuscript through several stages of revision.

                 When I started my journey on this work in 1997, I wrote and spoke about the collaborative nature of this vision and how the only way we can allow this process to continue is to work together.  I raised the money and flew Dr. Gary Solomon out to Colorado College in Colorado Springs to put on one of his seminars about the growing field of Cinematherapy™. My goal was to expand that vision and to  take it a step further by introducing a panel of film theorists and filmmakers as well as an art therapist to discuss the idea of making films as therapy with the psychologist as the mediator in an open forum. This was the birth of a dialogue between art therapists and psychologists and other disciplines.  I hope to continue that tradition in this book.

                 In my master’s and doctoral studies, I continued to pursue this goal of integrating films and healing but In order for me to pursue this idea, I needed to reach out to others for help.  Brandon Brawner, who had been doing this work for several years before me, gave me much needed advice and guidance and participated in the research in my dissertation. Later, I approached my authors after the dissertation was finished to see who was interested in further collaboration and Lauren volunteered to assist me with the book.  Lauren and I both know from our dissertations and previous work, that there was research in this field dating far before we discovered it and we immediately started our proposal.

                 Together we wish to thank the countless contributors over the past century and pay tribute to the pioneers in film and psychology who have tried to integrate psychology, and film. This book is a collective vision stemming from the American spirit of the need to pioneer and has expanded to the rest of the world. Lauren and I both believe that this book is about asking questions and not answering them.

                 This book is about building a community to support the growth of the theory and practice of film- and video-based therapies. The authors who contributed chapters to this book are the most visible part of this community, and as editors we cannot thank them enough for their ongoing efforts to support this growth. Without my dissertation chair, Michael Sipiora, and his continued support on my chapter, I may never have thought of the way he suggested in collaborating and reaching out to others.

            In addition to the contributors whose names grace the pages of this book, we must acknowledge the great efforts and countless hours given to this project by the less visible members of our community. This book would not have gotten off the ground without the academics who voluntarily took time out of their busy schedules to review our proposals and their feedback and advice on how to improve this book in its earliest stages. We wish to thank Dr. Matthew Bennett from Pacifica Graduate Institute, Dr. Lynda Ross from Athabasca University, and Dr. Oksana Yakushko from Pacifica Graduate Institute them for their generosity in helping us with our proposal. 

            We  would also like to thank  Stacy Noto and Lauren Verity from Routledge for their countless hours of assistance and answering questions. Ruth Cardinal de Ubiera for giving Lauren excellent advice and contribution to her work.

I wish to give additional credit to Catherine Highland Moon for her book on Media and Materials in Art Therapy for allowing the use of two of her chapters to be used in our book,  and for her advice and guidance. Thank you also to Andrea Polard for her advice on positive psychology and Happiness and Richard Himmer for his advice on leadership. Thank you to Doug Pray and Joel Kurahawa for giving permission to the excerpt from the video and text from  the Dalai Lama video I edited for them in 2001. Finally, to Linda Buzzell who came up with the idea to do an edited book and to Lauren Johnson for agreeing to partake in my dissertation as well as the difficult and often frustrating process of collaboration. You challenged me to think like a feminist and I can only hope that you are more understanding of the depth psychological approach.

Our hope is that this text will serve to inform, inspire, and advance the field of film- and video-based therapy and the growing community of researchers and practitioners. Film/video and therapy will hopefully continue to be a collaboration between art therapists, psychologists, and other disciplines as we continue to collectively pioneer this field. 

Last, this couldn’t have been done without the help of the editors who constantly tended to grammar, APA style, and statistics. I wish to thank Sheila Braun for her contribution in editing the statistics and to Jan Freya, Barb Elwert, Mary Ann Cincotta, Jill Eastwood, Diane Johns, and  John Morris for help with APA style and grammar.

We are deeply grateful for the dedication of others in this project, and sincerely look forward to witnessing the inevitable growth of this field in the future. In order to grow as scientists we must also grow as human beings and collaborate together. It is in the spirit of collaboration that his book recognizes that we are human beings using technology, science, and art for healing purposes.

Josh Cohen PhD       

Lauren Johnson PhD




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