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.

Members of the advisory council for the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery and community leaders recently attended a gala to celebrate an award for volunteerism presented by the White House to IGM Gallery Director Lynn Crandall.

The award and a letter signed by President Barack Obama were presented to Crandall by Jennifer Morgan, president of the United Nations Association, Beverly Hills. The award recognizes the mission of the IGM Art Gallery and its public, private, nonprofit, faith-based, academic and media partners to develop economic self-sufficiency and social justice on both USC campuses and in the surrounding communities.

The event also launched an exhibition by New Delhi artist Nikki Anand, who flew in for the reception and discussions led by speakers that included Jim Beddows of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Terance Wolfe of the USC Marshall School of Business.


Bravemind is a clinical, interactive, virtual reality (VR) based exposure therapy tool being used to assess and treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The assessment and treatment of PTSD is a major concern to the military because stressful experiences in today’s war-fighting environments have resulted in a significant number of soldiers returning from deployment being at risk for developing PTSD.

The effectiveness of using graduated exposure therapy to treat PTSD has been well documented. Treatment typically involves the gradual, repeated ‘reliving’ of the traumatic event in the imagination under a clinician’s care.  Through this the patient can begin to process the emotions associated with the trauma and de-condition the learning cycle via a habituation/extinction process.

One of the challenges associated with this treatment is the reliance on patients to be able to effectively imagine their traumatic experiences. Many patients, however, are unwilling or unable to do this. In fact, this very tendency to avoid the cues and reminders of the trauma is one of the cardinal symptoms of PTSD.

Bravemind was developed to address this challenge by offering a means by which to overcome the natural avoidance tendency of trauma sufferers. The potential of using VR for the treatment of PTSD is supported by previous reports in which patients with PTSD, who were unresponsive to previous imaginal Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy treatments, went on to respond successfully to Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET).

Bravemind allows clinicians to gradually immerse patients into virtual environments representative of their traumatic experiences in a controlled, stepwise fashion by providing the capability to control multi-sensory emotional stimuli and monitor the intensity of the patients’ stress responses via advanced brain imaging and psychophysiological assessment techniques.

The use of VR technology offers unique capabilities for the treatment of PTSD not only because it allows interactive, multisensory, immersive environments to be readily created that can be tailored to a patient’s needs, but also because it provides the ability for clinicians to control, document, and measure stimuli and patient responses, offering clinical assessment, treatment and research options that are not available via traditional methods. As such, Bravemind not only provides a tool for clinicians in the treatment of PTSD patients but also allows them to measure, document, and learn from the results in order to better understand the brain and biological factors that serve to inform the prevention, assessment and treatment of PTSD.

The BRAVEMIND VR Exposure Therapy software was created at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies and is provided free of charge for its clinical and research use upon documenting clinician/researcher expertise in the area of Prolonged Exposure Therapy for the treatment of combat-related PTSD. It is the responsibility of the requesting agency to acquire the necessary equipment to run the system, but we can provide a fully detailed equipment directory and instructions for set up with supporting links. For further information, please contact project PI, Dr. Skip Rizzo at:

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