Movies play a huge role in American culture—according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans spent $9.87 billion on movie theater tickets alone in 2009. Add $8.73 billion more from the purchases of feature films on DVD, and that is quite a huge chunk of change even without factoring in online movie streaming costs from services such as Netflix. While most people watch movies for entertainment or enjoyment purposes, there is a possible new reason to delve into the wonderful world of movie magic—to maintain your mental health.

It is obvious that movies can be great resources through which audiences can reduce stress, but psychotherapist Dr. Gary Solomon, a professor at the College of Southern Nevada, says that movies have a great deal of therapeutic value. Known as “The Movie Doctor,” Dr. Solomon was the first to coin the term “cinematherapy,” which Segen’s Medical Dictionary defines as “a form of therapy or self-help that uses movies, particularly videos, as therapeutic tools.”

Dr. Solomon has found that by using movies as therapy, audiences can be inspired to make healthy choices and decisions about their own struggles based on the stories of characters in movies. Solomon’s cinematherapy books “help people see and hear things that they might have been unwilling or unable to acknowledge on their own.” Additionally, movies allow audiences to get lost in the story and escape reality for a short period of time, which can greatly reduce stress and help people think more clearly about their own reality.

Dr. Gary Solomon has written three books about utilizing movies as a medium of therapy: The Motion Picture Prescription: Watch This Movie and Call Me in the Morning, Reel Therapy, and Cinemaparenting. More information can be found at

Come out and see what movies can do for your mental health by attending a free film screening of the movie, “Prozac Nation” on Monday, March 19th at 6:00pm in Sykes Student Union Theater.