Cinema Therapy: Spiritual Themes in Film

Cinema Therapy: Spiritual Themes in Film

A Series of 5 Workshops

First Friday of every month, 9:00am–12:15pm
February–June, 2018

$40 per workshop

Care and Counseling Center of Georgia—Main Office
1814 Clairmont Rd. • Decatur, GA 30033
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3 CE hours for each workshop

Overall Program Summary

The series will introduce participants to the use of cinema as an intervention in a therapeutic context. Each event will highlight different spiritual themes, aligned with clinical diagnoses. Using clips of relevant films, presenter Debonee Morgan, LMFT and Spiritual Director, will illustrate symptoms and progression of various disorders, and how healing takes place. Participants will deepen their understanding of diagnostic manifestations, and also how to work with clients via prescribed films.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, June 1

Sweetness of Connection

Reviews the use of cinema therapy in practice, including more advances techniques. Refreshes implementation of the tools of strengths-based therapy, existential therapy, and Mindfulness. Solidifies importance of celebrating individual and family strengths and connection. Uses film clips to show resilience, mindfulness and meaning-making in individual development.

    Participants will:

  1. Be able to describe more advanced cinema therapy techniques.
  2. Demonstrate basic understanding of Strengths-Based therapy.
  3. Demonstrate basic understanding of Existential therapy.
  4. Demonstrate basic understanding of Mindfulness therapeutic techniques.
The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Life Aquatic (2004)

Renowned oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) has sworn vengeance upon the rare shark that devoured a member of his crew. In addition to his regular team, he is joined on his boat by Ned (Owen Wilson), a man who believes Zissou to be his father, and Jane (Cate Blanchett), a journalist pregnant by a married man. They travel the sea, all too often running into pirates and, perhaps more traumatically, various figures from Zissou’s past, including his estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston).

BirdmanBirdman (2014)

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter and ex-wife.

AmélieAmélie (2001)

AMÉLIE is a fanciful comedy about an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm and mystery of modern-day Paris through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue.


Previous Sessions

February 2

The Feb 2nd workshop is over.
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Love and Relationship

Introduces the use of cinema therapy in practice. Explores family, romantic, and friendship relationships to contrast healthy and dysfunctional patterns. Uses film clips to explore Family Systems by illustrating connections and disruptions. Illuminates romantic codependence with examples of boundary permeability and stability.

    Participants will:

  1. Be able to describe and implement basic cinema therapy techniques with clients.
  2. Describe and identify systemic pathology within family relationships.
  3. Describe and identify codependency in romantic relationships, and prescribe new behaviors of boundary-setting.
August: Osage CountyAugust: Osage County (2013)

Based on Tracy Letts' Pulitzer® Prize- and Tony® Award-winning play of the same name, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is a dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in and the dysfunctional woman who raised them. The film features an all-star cast led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, including Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and Sam Shepard.

The Big SickThe Big Sick (2017)

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents—whom he's never met—while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a bizarre romance comedy about two ex-lovers who undergo a phenomenal and experimental medical procedure to erase each other from their memories. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) think that after Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) does such a procedure, their time together would be no more. Fate, it seems, has a different plan when it introduces them once more. Soon Joel is in a battle with his mind to to regain what was lost and keep what memories he has left.

March 2

The Mar 2nd workshop is over.
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Dark Night and Separation

Reviews the use of cinema therapy in practice. Explores themes of depression, isolation and spiritual development through the Dark Night of the Soul. Uses film clips to illustrate symptoms of depression and dysthymia, and movement through to healing.

    Participants will:

  1. Be able to describe and implement basic cinema therapy techniques with clients.
  2. Describe and identify symptoms of depression and dysthymia, and interventions for healing.
  3. Understand spiritual development phases in conjunction with psychological stages, and explain the importance of the Dark Night in spiritual growth.
The End of the TourThe End of the Tour (2015)

The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest.

MelancholiaMelancholia (2011)

Described as “A beautiful movie about the end of the world,” MELANCHOLIA tells the story of two sisters (Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg), who find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth. Along with Dunst and Gainsbourg, the film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling and John Hurt.

SilenceSilence (2016)

Legendary director Martin Scorsese’s SILENCE tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Adam Driver and Oscar® nominee Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Academy Award® nominee Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity was outlawed. When they are captured and imprisoned, both men are plunged into an odyssey that will test their faith, challenge their sanity and, perhaps, risk their very lives.


April 6

The Apr 6th workshop is over.
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Trust and Letting Go

Reviews the use of cinema therapy in practice. Explores themes trust in self, relationships, and Higher Power, and the importance of being able to let go when appropriate. Uses film to highlight symptoms of anxiety and attachment disorders, and progress in alleviating stressors and unhealthy reactions.

    Participants will:

  1. Be able to describe and implement basic cinema therapy techniques with clients.
  2. Describe and identify symptoms of anxiety and its manifestations, and healthy alternative behaviors.
  3. Describe and identify signs of attachment disorders, and their consequences in relationships.
MagnoliaMagnolia (1999)

An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama leads you in several different directions, weaving and intersecting various subplots and characters, from a brilliant Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed pied-piper, to a child forced to go on a TV game show and the pressures he faces from a ruthless father.

Lars and the Real GirlLars and the Real Girl (2007)

Extremely shy Lars (Ryan Gosling) finds it impossible to make friends or socialize. His brother (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) worry about him, so when he announces that he has a girlfriend he met on the Internet, they are overjoyed. But Lars’ new lady is a life-size plastic woman. On the advice of a doctor (Patricia Clarkson), his family and the rest of the community go along with his delusion.

Don JonDon Jon (2013)

New Jersey bartender Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) knows what's important: his friends, his family, his car, his church, his sexual conquests… and porn. In fact, Jon is a porn addict and has never had a genuine relationship with a woman. However, when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) he has to change his operating methods, because Barbara won't be bedded easily. For the first time in his life, Jon begins a real courtship, but his obsession with erotica threatens to ruin everything.

May 4

The May 4th workshop is over.
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Redemption and Recovery

Reviews the use of cinema therapy in practice. Explores themes of guilt and shame, and recovery from addictive behaviors. Uses film clips to illustrate trauma responses, and overcoming tragic and painful events to move toward healing. Celebrates vulnerability and the importance of connection with community and Higher Power.

    Participants will:

  1. Be able to describe and implement basic cinema therapy techniques with clients.
  2. Describe and identify the impact of trauma on individual mental health.
  3. Understand work with guilt and shame, and the importance of whole-hearted healing.
  4. Demonstrate basics of addiction recovery, and the importance of understanding of Higher Power.
The Fisher KingThe Fisher King (2003)

Director Terry Gilliam's comic masterpiece. Robin Williams stars as Parry, a homeless history professor who lives in a fantasy world full of castles, Red Knights and damsels in distress. Jeff Bridges co-stars as Jack, New York's #1 shock deejay, whose offhand arrogance triggers a tragedy which ruins his career. Penniless and without prospects, Jack finds himself plucked from disaster by the most improbable of saviors... Parry. And so the amazing story of the Fisher King unfolds a modern quest for redemption and the Holy Grail, filled with humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.

MoonlightMoonlight (2016)

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

CalvaryCalvary (2014)

Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral—and often comic—problems, he feels sinister and troubling forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary.


3 core hours of CE credit applied for each workshop from the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia, the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work, and Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
You must be on time and stay for the entire event to receive CE credit.

Workshop Registration

Choose how many of the series’ workshops you wish to attend by clicking one of the blue buttons (note that the total payment due—displayed in the orange bar—will change once you’ve made your selection). Then fill out the rest of the form and click the blue “Submit Payment” button at the bottom.

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