All things connect: The integration of mindfulness, cinema and psychotherapy

By Bronwyn RobertsonMarch 29, 2016


"Cohen and his co-authors reference numerous studies in their book, including a pilot study dating back to the 1980s which found that the use of videos with 17- to 19-year-olds who had dropped out of high school resulted in enhancing their self-worth and self-esteem. More recently, Michael Powell, Rebecca Newgent and Sang Lee found the use of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy effective in the treatment of depression in adolescents."

Authors from Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice and their work

I WAS THERE holds free, collaborative filmmaking workshops at major military installations and qualified private facilities across the country. The program enables veterans to make sense of traumatic service experiences, and substantially reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress. 

Dr. Cohen has been a public supporter of Benjamin Patton’s work at several conferences including APA, digital storytelling, expressive art therapy summit, a continuing education conference,  a drama therapy conference, and the American Art Therapy Association Conference. There are many populations that can be helped with art, especially film and video because they integrate many, if not all of the art forms. Video and Filmmaking has a long tradition as therapy. The outcome of this work results in a connection to people through a language that makes sense to them emotionally. 

While at Ben’s workshop at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, Dr. Cohen met with one veteran who publicly said he has PTSD and later admitted that he had been in therapy. Another solider stated that he didn't believe in PTSD. Each soldier worked together and collaborated, despite their differences, in definitions over what to call it. Instead they focused on the language of film and made a product that they were proud of together.

In another group, the soldiers focused on questions about why they were in the military. The questions seemed to continue for a long time. In a therapy group it may have ended right there and they may have continued to question their purpose in the Army without a product. However, when they were done, they had to complete a film and the film reflected why they did what they did. It moved past the point of “why” and moved into “how”.


Dr. Cohen believes in this work because it integrates psychology, art , body work, movement, and talk approaches to a therapeutic medium. If someone is in trauma, they can’t access the language portion of the brain. When someone is doing artwork for digital storytelling, they are more likely to talk to you than in the discussion portion alone. I noticed this at the workshop, that the activity level went up when they were being creative. 


-Josh Cohen PhD

Lead author and co-editor of

Video and Filmmaking as Psychotherapy:Research and Practice

and Owner of Your Digital Storytelling Project LLC



Digital Storytelling

Other forms of Digital Storytelling on Public Health issues

Video about family relationships and mental health issues. Produced by Wanda Lakota in a digital storytelling workshop in Denver, Colorado, May 2010, as part of the research project "Tobacco Control and Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Videography with Latino Adults to Promote Health Equity Among Colorado Latinos." Funds provided by University of Colorado Latino/a Research and Policy Center Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Marty Otañez (, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department, UC Denver

Film/Video-based Therapy

Therapeutic Filmmaking


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