Elaine Barlow

Creator, Coach, and Media Guide

Dr. Jennie Song, Psy.D

Clinical Psychologist and Student

Media Therapy – developed in the early 1990s by Elaine Barlow – is a multi-level psychoanalytic modality that uses media (television, film, even video games) as a catalyst to help people explore and evolve themselves emotionally, mentally, and spiritually by examining and analyzing personal transference; what you put into media when you watch it, not what you take out of it. 

The Media Therapy modality was originally built upon a CBT foundation, containing several of its primary features:

  • It has a specific timeline (based on the length of the media being used).
  • It focuses on emotional responses such as triggers and transference.
  • It relies heavily on strengthening and building cognition through analysis of how the media is consumed and processed.
  • It has homework and thought exercises for completion after and between sessions.
  • It relies on deep levels of trust between the student and the media guide.
… but it is also a heavily psychoanalytic therapy method because:
  • It often uses the past to inform on the present.
  • It finds connections between themes and cycles of behavior.
  • It brings knowledge in the unconscious mind up to the conscious level.
  • It uses talk therapy and writing therapy to explore resistance and develop new ways of expressing thoughts and emotions.

Media Therapy is flexible because it only uses media as a catalyst … as a launching pad for discussion and revelation. It takes something people do already on their own for pleasure and offers a way of making it more enlightening and therapeutic.

This project is active therapy and also a demonstration of a therapeutic modality. Dr Song is both a student and a teacher in this regard.

From the therapeutic standpoint this project is about Dr Song and how she sees herself and her life through a process of analyzing her responses to an artistic medium.

Remember that it’s not for you or anyone to judge or criticize how someone else feels about art and certainly not how someone processes their own feelings regarding the art they view. Media Therapy is NOT about the content being viewed, it’s about the person viewing it. Your opinions about the media are just as irrelevant and inappropriate as any opinions you may have about someone else’s life experience.

As an outside viewer, you are bearing witness to someone attempting to become a better, more self-aware, and more enlightened person through the process of therapy. There is absolutely nothing negative about that desire or process. If you have anger or negative feelings while watching someone’s therapeutic process of analyzing her own feelings, then you should spend more time offline examining your own triggers and transference; that is, what you are injecting of yourself into what you watch; exactly what this project is meant to examine.

This project will not be very enjoyable for you if you’re only interested in how Dr Song sees a show you’re a fan of or have opinions on so you can seek validation for your own feelings or to find fault with someone else’s. This project isn’t about how you feel about anything, it’s about how someone else feels about themselves.  Learn to recognize and set aside your own transference, validation seeking, and inappropriate levels of self-importance and enjoy the content for what it’s really about: someone else’s life and experiences, not your own.

There is ALWAYS something to be gained from understanding how different people see media and why, how different people see the world, how they understand themselves and their place in it. It just comes down to if you are able to get out of your own way to see value in, and being able to appreciate, other people’s experiences, lessons, and hard-earned wisdom.

In understanding others, you can learn even more about yourself.
In understanding yourself, you can learn even more about others.

© 2011-2023 Elaine Barlow. All rights reserved.