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Movies and the Mythic Imagination

Using Film in Depth Psychology

A six-hour live interactive course

with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach

Course Description

This is an archived course that is not offered at this time. The description will be updated if presented in the future.

The course explores uses of movies to increase understanding of emotional life. It is an introduction to how popular culture can reflect adult psychological challenges. The plots and characters in films reflect a broad range of human concerns and difficulties. The day will include a symbolic analysis of Black Panther as an initiatory adventure.

The training focuses on detecting psychological themes in cinema - and how to use examples from movies in discussions of personal issues. Examples illustrate the value of modeling actions on those of significant fictional characters such as seekers, mentors and allies. Discussion points out parallels between dreamwork and cinematherapy.

The focus of this course is not entirely on helping others. Even those who have done extensive inner study will deal with challenges such as life stage transitions. By projecting our issues onto fictional dramas, we are able to externalize our internal process briefly. It is clear we are not alone in experiencing the issues depicted on screen. Everyone needs to reconnect with unfelt dimensions, especially in stressful times. This form of psychological reflection helps in clarifying options, and embracing internal beauty.

Learning Objectives

  • Discern how character interctions can illustrate the class of inner agendas.

  • Assess which movies might be useful in mirroring psychological experiences.

  • Detect parallels between transformation in films and the work of identity formation.

  • Identify how plot dynamics reveal personal developmental tasks.

  • Demonstrate how discussion of symbolism in movies can aid psychological awareness.

  • Explain the use of dream analysis methods to draw insights from films.

CE Credit Information

The following CE credits are available:

  • Psychology, LMFT, LCSW, LPCC, Ed Psych, NBCC : 6 CE hours

  • Nursing : 7 hours

Black Panther 2017

How to Register

  1. Select a seminar location from the Current Seminar Dates and Formats

  2. Register online or call the Center

Women of Wakanda

Day Schedule

Zoom link goes active at 9:30 a.m. - Seminar 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

10:00 Introduction to archetypal symbolism in films

- The cinema narrative as window to the unconscious

- Gaining distance to reflect on pressing problems

11:15 - Break (approximate time)

11:30 - Story and symbol in cinematic narratives

- How adult psychological challenges are presented in movie plots

- Tapping resilience by identification with characters

12:30 - Lunch Break

1:30 - Using narrative practices for self-care

2:30 - Break (approximate time)

2:40 - Unconscious dynamics and the mythic imagination

- Using films like dreams - as mirrors of adult issues

3:50 - Break (approximate time)

4:00 - Deepening the therapeutic relationship

5:00 - Course concludes

Selections from the Reading List

Hauke, Christopher & Ian Alister (2001) Jung & Film: Post Jungian Takes on the Moving Image. New York: Brunner/Mazel

Hesley, John W. and Hesley, Jan G. (1998) Rent Two Films and Let's Talk in the Morning: Using Popular Movies in Psychotherapy. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Hollis, James (2020) Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times. Louisville CO: Sounds True

Hollis, James (1996) Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places. Toronto: Inner City Books

Le Grice, Keiron. (2013) The Rebirth of the Hero: Mythology as a Guide to Spiritual Transformation. London: Muswell Hill Press

Solomon, Gary (2001) Reel Therapy: How Movies Inspire You to Overcome Life's Problems. New York: Lebhar-Friedman Books

Sturdevant, Cathie Glenn (1998) The Laugh & Cry Movie Guide: Using Movies to Help Yourself through Life's Changes. Larkspur, CA: Lightspheres

Vogler, Christopher (1998) The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 2nd Ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions

Young, Jonathan (1996) Saga - Best New Writings on Mythology Vol. 1. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press

Young, Jonathan (2000) Saga - Best New Writings on Mythology Vol. 2. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press


Jonathan Young, PhD is a psychologist (PSY10231) with an international online practice. He teaches at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. Dr.Young assisted mythologist Joseph Campbell at seminars and was founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library. He is currently featured in several documentary series on the History Channel.

Anne Bach, M.S., MFT 38891 is a specialist in uses of writing in psychotherapy. She gives presentations on creativity as inner work at major conferences, and lectures widely on psychological dimensions of expressive writing. She also appears in memoir drama performances for various theater groups, including the Marsh Stage in Berkeley. Her clinical background includes poetry therapy with seriously mentally ill patients.