Challenges

Film Selection. Depending on the subject area, there can be an abundance of movies to choose from. Selecting the most appropriate of the films or documentaries to address the learning objectives of the topic is of outmost importance. Wedding and Niemiec (2014) have created an extensive list of recommended films to be used with students or patients when examining cases or issues of mental illness. They argue that films contribute to students acquiring a better and more profound understanding of a behavior or disorder. For example, in order to assist students explore alcohol tolerance and withdrawal, they may have students watch excerpts of the movie Flight with Denzel Washington.

Focus. Developing a list of questions to be considered by students while watching the clip will help them narrow down their attention to the parts of the movie that will be used for analysis and discussion. Narrowing down the focus with selected clips and developing relevant activities will help students to acquire the learning outcomes. For example, students may watch relevant film clips representing a psychiatric disorder, then compare them to the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V and engage in a dialogue and debate over the “merits and limitations of potential diagnoses for particular film characters” (Wedding and Niemiec, 2014, Preface, p.v).

Film Accuracy. Whether the films accurately represent the topic or not should be something to be discussed in class. Some of the popular history movies have been under scrutiny for the historical inconsistencies they include. Using them in the classroom requires that students should be informed about these to engage in dialogue to reveal such misinformation. Stigma, gender bias and stereotypes should be explored and used as points for reflection and further inquiry. Therefore, films can be useful to debunk common stereotypes, address biases and investigate intolerance.

Graphic Scenes. Students should be provided with the necessary information and be prepared before watching scenes which may be graphic and highly dramatic. Instructors should keep in mind that certain films or scenes may trigger unpleasant memories and upsetting feelings may surface. Students may identify with certain characters and unsettling emotions may be experienced. Apart from informing and cautioning students on intense scenes, instructors should also be prepared to provide support resources (such as counselling) should these are needed or requested.