Master of Social Work
School for Social Work
This study was undertaken to explore the effects of movie portrayals of therapy and therapists on the public's view of therapy and therapists. lt was hypothesized that much of the information that forms individuals' views of therapy comes from the media, specifically the portrayals they see in movies.
To explore to what extent subjects felt their impressions of therapy and therapists were informed by movies and by other sources, volunteers were enlisted to fill out questionnaires. The questionnaire asked subjects to identify and then describe the sources of information that they felt have formed their understanding of therapy and therapists.
The major finding of the study was that subjects who reported having had personal experience with therapy had a more realistic understanding of therapy. Content analysis of open-ended questions was conducted to determine if any specific movie portrayals resulted in positive or negative impressions of therapy, but no significant relationship was found
This study supports the need for further research to explore to what extent unrealistic movie portrayals of therapy and therapists affect the public's view of therapy. lf further research demonstrates that negative portrayals of therapists in the media influence the public's view, the professionals who practice therapy may want to consider combating the effect of these portrayals in some way.
Perlman, Karin, "The Effect of Movie Portrayals of Therapy and Therapists on College Students' View of Therapy and Therapists" (1994). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.