By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
I recently went with a group of therapist friends to see the movie, Inside Out, which is, as many other child therapists have already noted, a child therapist’s dream movie. This is for a few reasons but primarily because it is based on the emotions or “voices” in our heads and the movie did a pretty wonderful job of demonstrating what each emotion is all about and what it looks like without the other emotions combined with it. Fear seemed to represent anxiety and sadness was certainly a great representation of depression. Anger was quite over the top anger that I often see with some of the kids I work with who have difficulties managing their big angry feelings.
The coolest thing about this movie is that it takes emotions and makes them an interesting and okay thing for kids to talk about, which can be unusual in our current culture that focuses a lot on happiness and avoidance of most other emotions. Some of the kids that have come into my office since seeing the movie have been more open to share about their feelings, using the movie as their platform for the conversation. As I stated before, this is a child therapist’s dream!
Another element of the movie that I really appreciated is that you get to watch an evolution of the characters, where they grow to understand that each emotion is important and that their person, Riley, will cope and live her best life if they are all working together, rather than just focusing only on Joy (which was how the movie began). I fundamentally believe that all of our emotions are important and useful tools in our lives and that issues arise when they get out of balance and we rely on one emotion and neglect the others. As such, this message was something I really appreciated.
Here are some questions and discussion starters that I have been using with kids in my office to help them open up about their feelings while also feeling like they are talking just about the movie:
I can’t say enough how impressed I was with the movie and how easy it was to relate to it without having an over the top, educational or therapist vibe! I would highly recommend that any parent who is interested in talking to their child more about their emotions go see the movie with their child and then discuss it afterwards.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy in San Diego.
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