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Images, scenarios, and depictions in TV and film can help us connect with things that can sometimes be difficult to describe in words.

Below we’ve listed those shows and movies that people have mentioned as helpful.

A very important part of treatment is identifying a therapist who has the training and expertise you need and can help you create a trusting and collaborative relationship with them.

Some portray therapists doing things that none of us would do—namely Jason Segal’s character in Shrinking. However, any show or movie that can help make treatment feel more approachable and accessible could have benefits.

Below are 5 TV shows and movies that portray therapy and therapists.

These are provided solely for informational purposes, and the information presented here is for mental health or medical treatment or a substitute for the same.

This is Us

Rating: TV-14

Content Notes: Content Notes: Profanity (Extra), Sexual Content (Extra), Depression, Panic Attacks, Trauma, Divorce, Infidelity, Childhood Abuse, Substance Use

This groundbreaking TV show deals with real life head-on. Specifically, the show highlights the reluctance of BIPOC individuals to seek mental health treatment.

Ted Lasso

Rating: TV-MA

Content Notes: Profanity (Extra), Sexual Content (Extra), Depression, Panic Attacks, Trauma, Divorce, Infidelity, Childhood Abuse, Substance and Alcohol Use, Sexual, Gender-Biased, or Not Gender Affirming Humor

This award-winning series is funny and inspiring. More for the 30+ crowd, you can love this show even if you’re not a sports fan. The therapist, a sports psychologist, does not appear until Season 2.

At this point, Sharon seems a little too dry and detached for my taste, but I haven’t made it through Season 2 yet.


Rating: TV-MA

Content Notes: Sexual Content (Extra), Profanity (Extra) Gender-Biased, or Non-Gender Affirming Humor, Discrimination, Substance and Alcohol Use

Starring Jason Segal and Harrison Ford, this comedy is hilarious, irreverent, and sometimes dark. After several clients asked me if I had seen this one, I decided to check it out–especially once I knew Harrison Ford was in it. Segal’s character is a therapist who breaks every rule in my ethics code, yet that’s not what clients have pointed out.

I tried to look past it for comedy, but feel like I need to scream this to the rooftops: Therapists Should Not Break These Boundaries with Their Clients!!! If you’ve been to therapy, you will identify these boundary violations immediately.

However, people HAVE pointed out that it demonstrates that there is no such thing as “normal,” and therapists struggle like their clients. We’re all in this life thing together.

As the season progresses, though, the ridiculousness and hedonism can be a bit much for some people, including me. However, the scenes with Harrison Ford were ultimately why I stuck around.

Good Will Hunting

Rating: R

Content Notes: Sexual Content (Extra), Profanity (Extra) Gender-Biased, or Non-Gender Affirming Humor, Trauma, Loss, and Grief, Discrimination, Bullying, Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse, Childhood Emotional and Physical Neglect, Poverty

In one of the advanced clinical courses I taught doctoral students in clinical psychology, I asked them to choose a movie, TV show, or book to discuss their view on the therapeutic relationship.

Many students chose this movie. In my Ph.D. program, I was taught that hugging or telling clients that I cared about them was unethical and potentially worse. In this movie, Robin Williams breaks all of those rules. Yet the power of the therapeutic relationship between Williams and Damon feels authentic.

As one of my favorite mentors who leaned more interpersonal, thank goodness, said, “Remember this: it’s all about the relationship with the client—stupid. Put that on a t-shirt and wear it.” Put simply, if it doesn’t serve that, then don’t do it or say it.

Ordinary People

Rating: R

Content Notes: Sexual Content (Extra), Profanity (Extra) Gender-Biased, or Non-Gender Affirming Humor, Trauma, Loss, and Grief, Discrimination, Bullying, Emotional Neglect, Mean Mommy, Privilege, Depression

A professor in my first year of doctoral training required us to watch just three things: Ordinary People, Good Will Hunting, and Caesar Milan videos (behavior training) for fun. Don’t worry, most of my PhD was geekfest and research, but when a professor gave you fun assignments like this, you didn’t forget it.

I was a little disappointed when I saw how old this movie was. What could it teach me about anything relevant today?

However, when I watched it, I understood. I’ve never watched it without crying. This groundbreaking movie changed the way people viewed psychotherapy. If you can look past this film’s sense of privilege in a vacuum (there is not a BIPOC speaking part in the film) and see some of the relationships, it can be a meaningful film.

The film was one of the first to portray a cold, domineering mother figure against a passive father figure, a dynamic that occurs more than one might think. The mother is against therapy at first while the father is more supportive. Also, the relationship between the teenager and his therapist is special.

Please note that we are not recommending these movies as any form of mental health treatment. This information is provided solely as informational content. We always recommend that if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or a severe mental health disorder you consult your mental health provider before watching any movies that could have difficult content.At this time, research has not proven cinema or video therapy as a safe, reliable, and valid treatment method.


As well as having extensive training in the treatment of anxiety and its related issues, our team of therapists also offers a wide variety of online therapy services in North Carolina and all PSYPACT states. We work with lawyers, entrepreneurs, students, parents, and teens who are dealing with stress and burnout, trauma and loss, ADHD, depression, and life transitions. Our goal is to help you find success both professionally and personally so you can gain Momentum to excel in a bright future.


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The information provided on this website and in this blog is for educational purposes only. The contents of this website and newsletter are provided solely for informational purposes and are not meant to provide professional medical or psychiatric advice, counseling, or services