2011 Baltimore

Film, Families, and Family Therapy: The Therapeutic Session

The Film Interest Group has explored in the past subjects as diverse as ambiguous loss, the impact of technology, trauma, intercultural understanding, secrets and rituals, family process, among others. This year we will focus on films that directly portray a therapy session. We will discuss brief film clips in which a therapy session is included or is core as in the case of the series In Treatment. We will discuss the question of how films foster specific expectations about what should happen in therapy. We will also discuss the potential of these portrayals for training. For example, the therapeutic contract, common factors in couple and family therapy and the divergent narrative of clinicians and patients’ of what occurs in the therapy.

Learning Objectives:

1. Explore film’s portrayal of the therapy session

2. Discuss the potential of the therapeutic session portrayal for training

3. Analyze how common factors in couple and family therapy are exemplified in film

Film, Families, and Family Therapy: Ambiguous Loss in Film

The Film Interest Group in conjunction with the Ambiguous Loss Interest Group are collaborating in this year meeting. Ambiguity about a person’s absence or presence in the past, present, or future has for centuries been the stuff of good theater and real life (Boss, 1999, 2001). Research has supported the idea that ambiguity creates a powerful block to coping and grieving and “the inability to resolve such ambiguous losses is due to the outside situation” (1999). Film provides a terrific opportunity to analyze ambiguous loss in the context of training and clinical work. As a springboard for several small group discussions, we will watch clips from Away from Her (Sarah Polley, 2006), Al Otro Lado (On The Other Side) (Gustavo Loza, 2005), The Notebook (Nick Cassavetes, 2004), and a recently released film.
Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will examine the use of film to explore ambiguous loss in the case of illness and family relationships
2. Participants will acquire knowledge about film can be employed in training contexts to address ambiguous loss concepts.
3. Participants will explore the use of film in the practice of family therapy with patients dealing with ambiguous loss.

2009 New Orleans

Family Therapy and Film: The Impact of Technology

Chair: Gonzalo Bacigalupe

Films often explore social and cultural trends that the research and clinical literature may not assess timely. The impact of technology on families is one of those trends in which psychological and family research is still in its infancy. This year, we will review a set of brief edited clips of recent films and social media features, including Ben X (2008) and My Name is Lisa (2007). The clips will serve as a start point for a dialogue about the evolving impact of social networking, virtual reality, and Web 2.0 technologies on families and address the question of the “born digital” generation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To assess the contribution of film and social media in understanding how children and adolescents are utilizing technology.

  2. To dialogue about the use of film to explore technology as an intrinsic element of family life.

  3. To develop criteria for what may constitute good practices in the use of film for family therapy training and therapy.




INTEREST GROUP Family Therapy and Film

Chair: Gonzalo Bacigalupe

Films offer a powerful opportunity for beginning and experienced clinicians to explore underlying assumptions informing the assessment of the contexts that frame our patients’ lives. Carefully edited clips of three recent and extraordinary movies will serve as a start point for focused dialogue about how cultural and professional discourses frame our assessment of traumatic situations in intercultural contexts. A revised handout of film ideas for use in clinical and educational venues plus specific exercises will be shared with participants.

Learning Objectives:

1. To assess prevailing cultural assumptions about families in cross-cultural contexts though the use of film.

2. To dialogue about the use of film to explore complex self of the therapist dilemmas.

3. To develop criteria for what may constitute good practices in the use of film for family therapy training.

Clips to analyze:

The Namesake

In July

The Secret Life of Words

Family Institute of Cambridge

Family Therapy and Films 2007



INTEREST GROUP Family Therapy and Film Part I: Using Film in Training

Chairs: Gonzalo Bacigalupe & Elana Katz

Invited guests: Janine Roberts, Gladis Brun, & Barbara Gewirtz

Films are a favorite resource for educators and trainers. Janine Roberts will show two Latin AMerican movie clips and talk about how she has used them in training. Gladis Brun will share her experiences training couple threrapists in Brazil using a classical couples movie by Bergman, "Scenes of a Marriage".

INTEREST GROUP Family Therapy and Film Part II

Chairs: Gonzalo Bacigalupe, Joan Barth, & Corky Becker

Invited guests: Evan Imber-Black & Robert-Jay Green

Films can have excellent sequels. In this part, we will focus on Miguel Vilaro with screen screen of clips from "September 12" directed by his friend John Tohuey, to discuss ambiguous loss. Robert-Jay Green will share a short clip from "Dady and Pappa" about an interracial gay male couple adopting an African American child. Evan Imber-Black will share a film edit from "Unstrung heroes," illustrating secrets and rituals in the context of life-shortening illness.


Interest Group Proposal

Film, Family Therapy, and Families PART II: Complex Issues in Family Therapy

Historically, family therapy has been a pioneer at filming its own practices. We also refer to movies as learning experiences for ourselves, our families, trainees, and patients. Families and therapists watch movies, talk about them in therapy, and incorporate them into their lives. What movies are related in our conversations with families? How do we use movies to highlight family dynamics, problems, solutions, stories? We will screen segments of a few movies that have been recently released in DVD and discuss how they may become part of the therapeutic repertoire and the family's story. If you have a movie in mind, please email me to include it in the list. Popcorn is optional!

Clips to analyze


Squid and the Whale

In the Bedroom

Initial group participants

1. Lascelles Black

2. Anne Bobrick (refer by landau

3. Robert Carroll

4. Lee Combrinck-Graham

5. Martha E. Edwards

6. Laura Forman

7. Kayta Gajdos

8. Christina Gaudio

9. Barbara Gewirtz

10. Eliana Gil

11. MaryAnna Ham

12. Evan Imber-Black

13. Sara " Susy" Jutoran

14. Elana Katz

15. Judith Kellner

16. Jay King

17. Ellen Landau

18. Judith Landau

19. Linda Lockspeiser

20. Don-David Lusterman

21. Mikki Meyer

22. Shel J. Miller,

23. Marsha Mirkin

24. Susan Oppenheim

25. Roberto Pereira

26. Sanja Rolovic

27. Joellyn Ross

28. Karen Saeger

29. Ken Silvestri

30. Muriel Singer

31. Charlotte Spiegelman

32. Margarita Tarragona

33. Marion Usher

Potential Movies

  • Affliction (substance abuse)

  • Saraband

  • Sunshine

  • Scenes of a Marriage

  • The reef

  • Machuca

  • Squid and the Whale

  • In the Bedroom

  • The Constant Gardener

  • Crash

  • An American Rhapsody

  • Pieces of April

  • The Pianist

  • House of Sand and Fog

  • The Upside of Anger

  • Girl Interrupted

  • Harry Potter

  • The Human Stain

  • Ordinary People

  • Yes

  • The Son's Room

  • Whale Rider

  • Being Julia

  • Traffic

  • Imagining Argentina

  • The Official Story

  • El Día que me amen (When somebody loves me)

  • Monsoon Wedding

  • The Joy Luck Club

  • Shine

  • Over the Hedge

  • Shrek

  • Antwone Fisher

  • Radio

  • Good Will Hunting

  • Mystic River

  • The Ice Storm

  • The Story of Us

  • The Breakfast Club

  • Mean Girls

  • Reality Bites

  • The Family Stone

  • Ghost World

  • Stand By Me

  • Thirteen

  • Clueless

  • Welcome to the Doll House

  • Thumbsucker

  • Drugstore Cowboy

  • A Walk on the Moon

  • An Unremarkable Life

  • Shall We Dance?

  • Off the Map

  • The Family (Ettore Scola)

  • The Woodsman (CSA)

  • Happiness

  • The Heart of the Stag

  • Always

  • Loggerheads with Kip Pardue

  • Bella (immigration, trauma)

  • Under the Same Moon (immigration, mother-son relationships, Latinos in the USA)

  • Dirty Pretty Things (refugees, trafficking)

  • Pursuit of Happiness (perseverance, father-son relationships, institutionalized racism)
  • Gone Baby Gone (institutional relationships, child protective services)
  • Little Children
  • The Kite Runner
  • Dust to dust
  • The three funerals of Melquiades Concha
  • Little Children
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Viva Cuba
  • Blame it on Fidel (families on exile, resilience, politics and family)
  • The Grocer's Son (father-son relationships, illness, adult children)
  • Georgia Rule (substance abuse, intergenerational relations, CSA)
  • In her shoes (cut off, substance abuse, sisters relationship, stepmother)
  • Baran (refugees, resilience)
  • XXY (transgender, gender)

Immigration/Refugees Experience Movies

A Day Without a Mexican
A World Apart
Al Otro Lado (children searching for their parent abroad)
Another Side of Peace
Babel (border, intercultural)
Baran (Afgani immigrants in Iran)
Bella (Immigrants in NYC)
Dirty Pretty Things (trafficking)
Dreams of Dust (Internal Displacement)
El Norte (crossing the border experience)
Encounter Point
The Forgotten Refugees
Golden Door
Grapes of Wrath
Hester Street
Hotel Rwanda
Human Tragedy: The Face of Kosovo
La Familia (drama)
Machuca (
Maria Full of Grace (drug traffic impact)
The Namesake (Bengali experience)
Rabbit Proof Fence (indigenous children in white schools)
Refugee Nation
Schindler’s List
The Secret Life of Words (torture survivor)
The Violin
The Year My Parents went on Vacation
Sophie’s Choice (Holocaust survival)
Spare Parts (Trafficking)
Strengthening Resistance: The Use of Narrative Practice in Working with Genocide Survivors (Rwanda) (documentary)
Syrian Bride (drama)
The three funerals of Melquiades Concha
Under the Same Moon (Children-Parents separated by border)
When the Levees Broke (Katrina)