Counselling by Nicola Stewart


Film, Music and Bibliotherapy



If ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, what can a moving picture do?  


Have you ever watched a film that has evoked an emotional or inspirational response in you?  This means that the film has touched on your inner-psyche and opened a door to your unconscious thoughts and beliefs.  Thoughts that may be buried so deep you have hidden them from even yourself.  When watching films you can explore your reactions to themes within films to gain a greater understanding and conscious self awareness.


Film therapy can be a powerful tool for healing and growth for anybody who is open to learning how films affect us.  Film therapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, dialogue, lighting, sound, special effects and music in films to gain insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change.


Used as part of your therapeutic journey within this counselling relationship film therapy is an innovative method based on traditional therapeutic principles.


Do you love to watch films, listen to music or read books?  If the answer is yes to any one of these, then how would you feel about integrating these mediums into your therapy?


Used in context film / music / bibliotherapy can be an effective tool in your therapeutic journey.  Accessing your own deep feelings can be challenging at times but research has shown that individually film, music or books have the ability to ‘talk’ directly to our unconscious ‘self’ allowing, at times, in-depth analysis and considerable progress for you during your journey within a secure counselling relationship therefore enabling you to further increase your own self-awareness.  




The basic concept behind bibliotherapy is that reading is a healing experience.  


At its most basic, bibliotherapy consists of the selection of reading material, for a client that has relevance to that person's life situation.


The idea of bibliotherapy seems to have grown naturally from the human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art. For instance, a grieving child who reads (or is read to) a story about another child who has lost a parent will naturally feel less alone in the world.




Have you ever listened to a piece of music in which the lyrics have spoken directly to you?  


Research has demonstrated that music has actually been shown to effect portions of the brain that control mood and emotion. Research by Nayak et al showed that music therapy is associated with a decrease in depression, improved mood, and a reduction in state anxiety.


We are surrounded by rhythm from the moment we are conceived.  A foetus develops hearing before any other sense, enabling it to hear his/her mother’s rhythmic soothing heartbeat, therefore before we see the world – we ‘hear’ it!


Further recent research suggests that music can increase client’s motivation and positive emotions, so when music therapy is used in conjunction with traditional therapy it improves success rates significantly.




If you feel you can make use of film or books within your counselling follow these next steps: 


  1. Look at the film/book list available. Choose a film/book that appeals to you.

  2. Arrange a time to watch the film/read the book when you will be comfortable, undisturbed and focused.

  3. Notice the parts of the film/book you liked/disliked.  Which characters did you relate to.  Did any part of the film make you feel emotional.

  4. Once finished complete the review questionnaire available, recording your reactions and any thoughts/feelings that came up during the film/book.



Feel free to bring your reflections to your next counselling session to explore and gain a deeper self understanding.



If you have a computer/smart phone you will have access to music on-line.  Using the ‘Playlist worksheet’ compile a list of music to suit your tastes under the various headings.  


We all associate music to past situations or memories and the ability to listen to this music with conscious awareness of the reaction within us allows us to gain a further insight into our unconscious thoughts and feelings.


As you compile your playlist consider a time line – go back chronologically and list the songs at the time that you recall and their meaning to you.  Note the lyrics that stand out for you, notice the emotion the music evokes in you any physical reactions you may have.


Feel free to bring your playlist worksheet to your counselling session to enable you to explore what came up for you whilst listening to your chosen songs.