Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


A. Renee Staton

Amanda Evans

Michele Kielty


Cinematic horror has historically had a negative reputation among its peers even though it is a genre that commercially and financially thrives. There are many different perspectives as to what motivates an individual to willingly expose themselves to horror movies, ranging from psychological and metaphorical confrontation with repressed or socially unacceptable behaviors to fulfilling a somatic, thrill-seeking desire. Whatever the motivation, there is potential for harnessing both the psychological and physical reactions for therapeutic intervention. This paper aims to provide counselors with a synthesis of information on the potential therapeutic value of cinematherapy with horror movies, focusing on the relationship between recreational fear and sensation-driven interventions. Experiencing fear, when tolerable and in a safe and controlled environment, such as through viewing horror movies, could benefit individuals by preparing and practicing specific skills like emotion regulation and distress tolerance. Moreover, with the proper preparation and support, cinematherapy using horror movies could act as a creative adjunct to many theoretical counseling orientations.



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