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.

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Friends Talking Faith: An interview with Dr. Josh Cohen and Benjamin Patton

In this interview, I discuss the collective book research results from the acadenic reference book Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy:Research and Practice as well as Your Digital Storytelling Project as well as my clinical experience with addictions, PTSD, and now Virtual reality as they apply to the veteran and active duty population. Benjamin Patton then has a chance to discuss his I was There Non Profit Program.


"As this Memorial Day approaches we will talk with the grandson of one of America’s most famous Generals. This week on Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys we’ll discuss faith, combat veterans with PTSD, and therapy that’s really working. “I WAS THERE film workshop” is the program of the Patton Veterans Project. We will talk with the Executive Director, Mr. Benjamin Patton – he’s the grandson of Gen. George Patton. His mission is not on the battlefield but in the film studio where he seeks to combine the therapeutic value of narrative with the power of digital media to help veterans and military families heal from post traumatic and other service-related stress. We will also talk with Dr. Joshua Cohen about his research regarding this unique form of therapy and emotional healing. Our conversation – as Memorial Day approaches – with Mr. Benjamin Patton (pictured here) and Dr. Joshua Cohen about “therapy through film-making.” — listen now to this episode of Friends Talking Faith.


Free Webinar on the book.

Instructions for the webinar:

or click on the link at the top of the page 

1)Click on "click here for a free webinar" and it will take you to a page

2)click on "click here for a free webinar"

3) agree to the two pages of agreements

4)click on the link to the webinar

5)it will take you to a registration page-click on the registration where it says "reserve your spot"

6) select yesterday's replay

7)enter your name and email address

8)click on the link to register and copy and paste it into your browser

9)watch for free

10)enjoy-no purchase necessary!

New Force for Change Campaign #fvbt supports #forceforchange and all the causes they represent

Harrison Ford Announces New Force for Change Campaign In the Most Delightful Way Possible


UNICEF USA @unicefusa Nov 19
Contribute to @UNICEF & other causes, and get a chance to attend the premiere of the new @StarWars! ‪#‎ForceForChange‬Africa Cancer Foundation — working to promote the prevention of cancer and to provide holistic solutions for people affected by cancer in Africa. Nominated by Lupita Nyong'o.
Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF) — bridging the cultural gap between the United States Armed Forces and the performing arts communities by bringing the best modern American theater to the military free of charge. Nominated by Adam Driver.
Barnardo's UK — giving the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children the chance to reach their full potential regardless of the issues they’ve faced in their lives. Nominated by Andy Serkis.
Central London Samaritans — providing emotional support for vulnerable people to alleviate feelings of distress and despair. Nominated by Anthony Daniels.
Damilola Taylor Trust — providing inner-city youths with opportunities to play, learn and live their lives free of fear and violence. Nominated by John Boyega.
fStop Warrior Project — using digital photography to help wounded warriors successfully transition to the civilian world after medical retirement from the military. Nominated by Harrison Ford.
Feeding America – working to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of 200 food banks and engaging the U.S. in the fight to end hunger. Nominated by Mark Hamill.
Make-A-Wish — making wishes come true every day for children suffering from life­-threatening illnesses. Nominated by Peter Mayhew.
Malala Fund — empowering girls through education to achieve their potential and create change in their communities. Nominated by J.J. Abrams.
PACER Center — expanding opportunities for children and youth with all disabilities, including mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Nominated by Carrie Fisher.
Phab — creating opportunities for children and adults of all abilities to enjoy life together. Nominated by Daisy Ridley.
St. Francis Hospice, Raheny — providing specialist palliative care to patients living in north Dublin city and county. Nominated by Domhnall Gleeson.
The Circle — working to achieve its vision of equality for women and girls in a fairer world. Nominated by Gwendoline Christie.
UNICEF — ensuring all children get a healthy start in life and have opportunities to reach their full potential. Nominated by Kathleen Kennedy.
Union of Concerned Scientists — advancing science-based solutions for our planet’s most pressing problems—from combating global warming to developing sustainable ways to feed, power, and transport ourselves. Nominated by Oscar Isaac.

I Was There Filmmaking Workshop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord


“It’s a wonderful way to break down barriers and at the same time you’re actually creating a piece of narrative that may allow you to communicate something you haven’t before,” said founder Ben Patton, whose father also led soldiers as an Army officer in Korea and Vietnam."


This video was taken at an I Was There Filmmaking Workshop 

"He developed the program about three years ago, weaving knowledge from his career in public television with experiences from his youth growing up in a military family. He’d been looking for a way to give back to veterans, carrying on his family’s storied tradition of service.

Since then, the program has hosted more than 30 workshops at major military bases around the country. The one at JBLM this week is its second in the South Sound.

Over the course of the project, participants will make their own short movies. A gallery at its website,, shows that troops at past sessions have tackled difficult subjects, such as mourning friends who died in combat.

Patton and his teammates don’t call the program therapy, but they point out that the projects often lead soldiers to confront issues just below the surface.

Patton thinks the work really happens when participants break up in small groups.

“There’s something about the qualities of filmmaking that relate to a veteran’s experiences, and the No. 1 is collaboration. You’re with other people processing whatever you want,” Patton said."

This  text was taken from an article titled "JBLM veterans focus on filmmaking" published in the news tribune on October 20, 2015

Read more here:

Scholars of Change Video Contest

Vote for Joshua L Cohen's video in @WaldenU's Scholars of Change contest! Voting ends 9/29. Vote here

"All approved entries will be posted for public voting on the Scholars of Change Application on the Walden University Facebook page at or the Scholars of Change website between noon ET on September 8, 2015 and 3 pm ET on September 29, 2015."


"Public voting will take place from noon ET on September 8, 2015, through 3 p.m. ET on September 29, 2015 (the "Voting Period") by accessing the Application and following the online voting instructions to vote for your favorite Entries. Limit one (1) vote per person/e-mail address/Facebook account per Entry per day during the Voting Period. The entrant with the most valid votes during the Voting Period will be deemed the Voting Winner (subject to verification of votes)."

"Sponsor's judging score will determine 75% of entrant's final score; the public vote will determine 25% of entrant's final score."

Judging: All eligible Entries received will be judged by September 29, 2015, by Sponsor based on the following criteria:

  • Passion (40%): How is your desire to make a difference driving you to effect positive social change in your backyard or across the world?
  • Aspiration (30%): How is your Walden education helping to support your work and advance your mission of positive social change?
  • Inspiration (20%): How are you influencing and inspiring others in your community to go out and make a difference?
  • Creativity (10%): How well do you communicate your story through this video?

Please spread the word, share, and vote

Thank you,

Announcing Your Digital Storytelling Project

Click below for more info:

watch this video to learn more about the group


Storytelling is a primitive and ancient tradition, yet can inspire as well as create soulful images. This is an invitation to explore one’s life from a new lens. Storytelling in the digital age has more capacity to actualize your imaginative potential and allow yourself room for creative expression. 

The purpose of this group is to open up a creative space for storytelling through digital media. You will identify a life experience that you would like to develop into a Digital Story Project, using your own digital media, sound recordings and/or narrative. Or you can develop your own movie or film based project by capturing your own video drama, music, poetry, spoken word, and story or artwork onto a digital format. In this 9 week group you will explore your media and develop a PROJECT idea through brainstorming with other participants. You will then organize, gather additional recordings and edit your media into a 3-5min PROJECT that you can share with others. We will assist you in finding appropriate outlets for social media, such as: YouTube, Vimeo, FaceBook, or Instagram, as long as copyright is not infringed upon. Or to a more private platform like Planet Memorial or Drop Box. 

This group is open to adults (18+ to senior), who have some experience and little resistance to the use of media, apps and/or applications. If you have a trove of media (slides, stills, documents, audio recordings and/or videos) that you have been wanting to do something with but need a safe, creative environment in which to make a meaningful PROJECT, this group will help you get organized and focused on your idea. If you are an artist, performer, or musician and have footage that needs your attention, or if you want to make a tribute to a friend, or family member, in a supportive environment, this group is for you. The Digital Story Project could also be beneficial for a small group of friends or family members who want to work on the same project. 

If you need help with ideas or brainstorming, we are trained in coaching and nurturing creative potential. Also, if you don’t have experience editing and don’t want to invest in an editing system, we can help you find free apps to use in this group, on your iPhone, android, or tablet. If you have experience with editing, we can help with trouble shooting some technical aspects of certain systems. We can also recommend less expensive software on either a Mac or PC. 

Please consult with us for details.



please contact us 

Once you contact us, we can send you a link to the group. 

We're looking forward to meeting you.

The American Psychological Association Convention in Toronto

Dr Joshua L Cohen, Dr. J. Lauren Johnson , Carolyn McGurl, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Benjamin Patton all attended APA in Toronto this month. 

Dr. J Lauren Johnson is doing work with first nations populations. She presented on our panel at the American Psychological Association Conference in Toronto. Dr. J. Lauren Johnson coined the term “therapeutic filmmaking” after doing a pilot study on the use of video-making as therapy for her master’s thesis and it was published in the Arts and Psychotherapy in 2008. She found, in a qualitative study that used the phenomenological method, that 11 themes emerged in the research. The they included themes of mastery and “changed perspective on interactions with others.” Later she wrote a dissertation on hope. Both themes of hope and mastery in her body of research have been supported to be effective with technological interventions in an empirical study by Carolyn McGurl, MA, Winston,Seegobin, PsyD,Elizabeth Hamilton, PhD, and Mark McMinn, PhD. We need to continue to do both qualitative and quantitative research methods in this field like Dr. Johnson’s and Carolyn's , so that others like Benjamin Patton, who are working with veterans using digital storytelling can use it in practice. With further research and practice, we can focus future practitioner's skills on the lived experience as well as to know precisely what works in both clinical and digital storytelling settings.


APA Convention 2015

Benjamin Patton, Joshua L Cohen, J. Lauren Johnson, Carolyn McGurl, and Elizabeth Hamilton will be at APA 2015 in Toronto to present on film/video-based therapy. #apa2015 

Friday 10:00 am to 10:50 am (August 7th, 2015) @ the convention center room 709

See the trailer for film/video-based therapy and attend the APA convention 2015. To learn more please visit


Make Films Not War

Make Films, Not War

Imagine growing up as the son of a famous general, the grandson of an even more famous one, with seven generations of military academy graduates on both sides of your family. The answer to ‘What should I do with my life?’ seems like a foregone conclusion. Right?
Image: Jason Torres and Daniel Fienco, ‘I Was There’ participants, line up a shot for their film ‘What's Really Important’. Courtesy of Ben Patton

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Release date: 29 May 2015

5 minutes

Looking for authors for an edited book on integrative medicine and advocacy using Film/Video-Based Therapy

Looking for authors for an edited book on integrative medicine and advocacy using digital storytelling


Working Titles:


  • Film/Video-Based Therapy: Using accessible technology  for positive social change and healing
  • Film/Video-Based Therapy:An Expressive Arts Approach for the Digital Age
  •  Film/Video-Based Therapy:Telling your story on-screen for greater self-understanding.


  • ·         My name is Josh Cohen and I recently co-edited a book through Routledge titled Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice through Routledge along with two co-editors (Cohen, Johnson, Orr, 2015).


  • ·         I am writing to ask for contributions for a new book that will emphasize tools for positive social change using therapeutic techniques in filmmaking as well as Film/Video-based therapy through expressive art therapies like drama, dance, music, painting, drawing, and more. By learning the language of film, we may educate people on how to watch and use the images so we learn how to process and discuss the images. 


  • ·         The book will be used in collaboration with a research project that also emphasizes a film that is focused on positive change in the world directed by Mark Wolf who runs a non-profit organization called “Change the World Productions.” The producer, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is President Barack Obama’s half-sister and both have dedicated the profits of this film to be donated to non-profit organizations that fit the cause of world peace.



Intended audience:


  • The first book has topics that have been submitted to conferences including American Psycholgical Association, American Art Therapy Association, and other outlets that may facilitate further discussion on the topics of creativity in creating positive social change in our lives, families, communities, country, and the world. Filmmakers, artists, academics, and human being influenced by this topic should be moved both emotionally, and psychologically by this work.


Submission guidelines:


  • ·         Some examples of topics that would fit in this book may be work that includes a focus on trauma, addictions, creativity, and film.
  • ·         A preference may be given to depth psychology, and the focus of the work will be to try and bring a voice to this way of thinking that goes beyond words but engages the psyche through image and art.
  • ·         Acceptance is contingent on the relevance to trauma, film, and creativity. A preference will be given to depth psychological approaches but the ability to focus on many different theoretical orientations may also be necessary. 
  • ·         Please send your chapter summary of approximately 300 words to describe the content of the proposed chapter including your proposed topic of discussion and your preferred theoretical grounding for your work.
  • ·         Please also include a brief biography (75 words) and identify your current location of practice.
  • ·         You do not need to be a licensed therapist to submit a proposal. Contributors may be an anthropologist, psychologist, art therapist, filmmaker, etc. As long as your focus is on trauma, film, and creativity, your topic will be considered.  


  • ·         Please send your chapter summary based on your area of expertise in what area of practice you feel most inspired to write about. If you feel that you are excited to contribute about combat veterans, domestic violence victims, or violent criminals, please write about that population and relate it to film and healing.


  • ·         If you need help and guidance with narrowing down a topic, I am available for free consultation. The book is not limited to psychotherapy and therapeutic practice but is focused on tools for positive change as well.


  • ·         Complete manuscripts, not exceeding 5,000 words with APA citations included in the word count, (Manuscripts will be determined after your application has been accepted, and should be formatted according to APA guidelines).


  • ·         Deadline for the proposed chapter proposal is May 1st, 2015 by midnight Pacific Time
  • ·         The deadline for the final papers will be due the following year, May 1st 2016.


  • ·         There will be a revision process, followed by a proofing stage that will take approximately 1 year following this process. Routledge, if the chosen publisher, will go through their own review process of the material as well.
  • ·         If you have any questions or concerns regarding this process, please contact me at



·         The inspiration and philosophy behind the book


  • ·         There is no question that the world is suffering right now through collective trauma, mass shootings, terrorism and violence. Mental health professionals, creative art therapists, filmmakers, and activists are suddenly called to take action and both researchers and practitioners are faced with daunting challenges. One way to face these challenges could begin by starting new dialogues and thinking about these topics in a different way.


  • ·         Anslow (2012) discussed how superhero teams collaborated in films like the Avengers.


He stated


  • “So in the Avengers, as in the other Marvel groups, it is the collective forces rather than ego-driven solo hero that provides the redeeming energy for humankind.”(p.242).


  • ·         The book is intended to inspire, which means one may need to look within their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations, rather than look outward.
  • ·          Drawing on Natalie Roger’s work on creativity (N. Rogers, 1993/2000, 2011), and an invited lecture on expressive arts and peace (N. Rogers, 2004), the article aims to make explicit the theoretical underpinnings of person-centered expressive arts therapy.”  
  • ·         The overall themes of this book/documentary collaborative project are focused on building a better world by paying attention to our own psychological well-being and how we can influence those closest to our own lives and from there, we can branch out to our families, our communities, our cities, states, and countries and eventually the globe.
  • ·         On a practical level, this is a common practice of self-care that applies to both psychologists, therapists, psychotherapists, and creative individuals, as well as all of humanity.
  • ·         How can we heal the world if we are do not take care of ourselves? How can we use the technology available to us to then take action in our own lives and make a difference? For instance, we could pick up a cell phone and change the world.



  • ·         For instance, anyone can make a movie as seen in the super bowl commercial this year.  (Scorsese, 2015).











Anslow, J.A. (2012). Archetypes Assemble: How superhero teams save the world from the apocalypse and lead the way to individuation-Marvel’s the Avengers. In Spring Journal (2012). Carter & Foster (Eds.). Environmental Disasters and Collective Trauma.  


Cohen, J.L., Johnson,J. & Orr, P. (2015). (Eds). Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy:Research and Practice. New York: Routledge.


 Cohen, J.L., (2015) Video and filmmaking as Psychotherapy:research and practice Retrieved April 2 2015 from


Cohen, J.L. , Johnson, J. & Orr, P. (2015). Website for retrieved April 2nd 2015 from


Rogers, N., Tudor, K., Embleton, T., Keemar, K. (2012). Person-centered expressive arts therapy:a theorietical encounter. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies. 11 (1). DOI:10.1080/14779757.2012.656407

Scorsese,M. (2015). Make a film with iPad. Retrieved April 2nd 2015 from


Wolf, M. (2014). Change the world Productions Retrieved April 2nd from



Video and filmmaking as psychotherapy : Research and practice NLM Catalog

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