How Cinematherapy Helped Me Through a Midlife Crisis


Bewildered, I asked, “You mean, how old am I?”

“Yes,” she said.


“You would be joining a young, progressive team, but you look much younger, so I think you’d fit in just fine,” she said.

My excitement turned to apprehension as we wrapped up the interview.

Driving home, her unsettling words playing in my head, I remembered the résumé feedback I’d received from an employment agency a month earlier. “Remove the dates to avoid age bias,” they’d said. Anxiety welled up in me. Was it possible that my age could hinder me from job opportunities? The thought terrified me.

That night, I shared my interview experience with my partner.

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “You’re still youthful, full of energy, and have a lot to offer.”

Despite his efforts to cheer me up, our difficult history hung between us. Considering that we hadn’t been intimate in years, and our relationship felt like it was on the brink of collapse, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my age had played a part in that, too. The mounting evidence weighed on me.

As the weeks went on—and I didn’t get the position—I continued my job search and writing pursuits, but my confidence waned. With disappointment and self-doubt as my constant companions, I felt like a fool for even trying. It seemed obvious that at my age, I wasn’t going to be anyone’s first choice.

A month later, anxious, depressed, and stuck, I went to see a therapist for help. A seasoned psychotherapist with a master’s degree in counseling and a certificate in marriage and family therapy, he listened patiently.

“It sounds like you’ve been carrying a heavy emotional burden trying to navigate the complexities of midlife, age discrimination, and problems in your relationship,” he said.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief and gratitude just hearing him validate what I’d been going through.

As the session went on, my therapist—who ordinarily used a combination of cognitive behavioral and family systems therapy—told me about a new therapy he’d incorporated into his practice called “cinematherapy.”

He described cinematherapy as an artistic tool that exposes individuals to their difficulties through characters in movies who are dealing with similar issues, thus encouraging clients to see their challenges in a different light. He asked whether I’d be willing to try it.

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