Movie Review: Speak
Movies and movie reviews can be a great learning resource for students since they allow them into the characters’ lives, perspectives, and how the views differ when handling different situations. Movies also create a visual display of real-life experiences that can help the student understand certain topics and their application in real life.
Movies with psychological themes and lessons considerably impact learning the therapeutic process and interaction between the client and the therapist. This paper reviews the movie speak and its therapeutic, personal and professional implications based on childhood/adolescent trauma.
The movie selected for this review is “speak.” Speak (2004) is an independent American come-of-age film based on the novel speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The movie portrays a 14-year-old high-schooler whose life falls apart following a traumatic event leading her to suffer from acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and selective mutism. These are the major themes of the film.
The film portrays Melinda, the main actor, as living a normal life before joining a high school with her best friend. She gets raped by a senior student at a house party that summer, after which she calls the police. However, she cannot say anything to the police, her parents, friends, and family members.
Since no one knows the truth about what happened, and Melinda is unable to express it to anyone, she falls into immense suffering, pain and feels helpless. She does not know how to deal with the situation, therefore, disrupting her daily life. Since the traumatic event, Melinda has gone into silence (Selective mutism), and her tongue freezes whenever she tries to share the experience.
She later finds solace in art. Her art teacher is the only one who gets through to her, whereby she expresses herself through art. However, she gets accustomed to a death-like existence and turns an abandoned closet into her escape room.
The particular scene that had the most significant influence on my thinking is when Melinda learned that her ex-best friend was dating the senior student who raped her. She has no choice but to face her fears and speak up. Otherwise, seeing her best friend with this boy would only remind her of her traumatic experience, which would have deteriorated her feeling of helplessness.
To overcome this, Melinda is forced to speak up, accept what happened and move on, rather than keeping it to herself, pretending that it never happened. Yet, she still suffers mental trauma every day, especially when she encounters reminders of her traumatic experience.
Furthermore, the scene whereby the protagonist’s friend (David Petrakis) is introduced potentially informs the therapeutic process for Melinda. David plays a considerable role in helping Melinda identify the patterns of the conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event.
He tries to make her understand that if she needs to overcome her traumatic experience and its effects, she has to speak up, face her fears and have a goal toward overcoming them. The interaction with David calls Melinda into thinking about it, finally overcoming her fears and finding the courage to tell her ex-best friend about the summer party incident.
Some of the aspects of the movie that a view who has not watched the movie before should look out for include the effect of not speaking up after a traumatic event, the subject of bullying and social isolation, reasons why rape victims may fail to report or speak about it, and the long-lasting effects on the victims.
The reason why some victims fail to speak up after traumatic events such as rape is the notion that no one cares and no one is ready to listen. As seen in the movie, Melinda’s voiceover is clear that, according to her, communication and expressing one’s feelings is a lie, and no one cares.
The subject of bullying is also seen whereby Melinda tries to say no to the rapist, but since he is a senior student, he goes on to rape her. Social isolation, especially from individuals who were initially active, could raise an alarm that something might be wrong. Melinda cut off all social ties and found an escape room.
The aspect of the long-lasting effects of post-traumatic events warrants more reflection. The film does not provide information on whether Melinda could overcome her depression fully after sharing the experience with her friend and the possible relapse of the depression.
The specific value that can be used in the counseling process, as seen in the movie, is empathetic listening. The scene whereby David Petrakis is introduced depicts the empathic listening value since the friend is seen giving Melinda time and listening empathically as he tries to get her to speak up. Empathic listening is an essential value of the counseling process. Empathic listening is the structured listening and questioning technique used by counselors to enhance a relationship with a stronger understanding of what is being conveyed emotionally and intellectually by the client.
The scene involving David and Melinda’s interaction can be used to enhance a client’s understanding of a skill/technique taught in the therapeutic process. The particular scene is a major focus of the entire film since it is where Melinda’s turning point begins.
According to Klonek et al. (2020), empathic listening is a prerequisite for every counselor. It eases the therapeutic process since it encourages clients to open up and share their experiences. Sharing experiences is the first step in the healing process. The therapeutic process involves the patterns of behavior, feelings, and conscious and unconscious thoughts brought to awareness through the therapeutic relationships between the client and the therapist.
Teaching the patient how to self-regulate their nervous system is important in the therapeutic process. The nervous system is developed in a way that can detect stressors such as trauma experience reminders and send the information to the brain, which thereafter reacts to the person escaping the event or condition by fight or flight.
The scene encompassing the interaction between David and Melinda can be used to teach a client how to self-regulate their nervous system when they encounter situations that remind them of the traumatic experience. Self-regulation of the nervous system enables a trauma client to achieve a psychological balance and be able to overcome the stressors reminding them of the traumatic event.
Over time, the client can get over the situation and not get bothered by traumatic event stressors. At this point, the client is fully healed. By exposing the client to this scene, they can understand that they can successfully face their fears and address the consequences of a traumatic experience, just as Melinda was eventually able to talk about the rape incident with her ex-best friend.
Empathic listening, as depicted in the scene where Melinda talks to David, can be used to make an emotional connection between the therapist and the client, thus easing the therapeutic process. Research shows that empathy and active listening are critical requirements in psychotherapies (Zhang et al., 2022). As mentioned earlier, empathic listening helps build trust between the client and the therapist.
Trust is essential in maintaining an effective relationship and propelling the therapeutic process. The scene can also be used to develop a cognitive connection to enhance and develop skills and behavior that can be replaced with distorted beliefs and behavior following the traumatic event. For instance, exposing the client to the scene whereby Melinda had come up with an escape area would help discourage the client from such beliefs and behavior and help them develop a behavior that can be used to replace the undesirable one, for instance, taking walks, or finding someone to talk to, rather than locking yourself up in an escape space.
This scene is selected because it has all the crucial aspects of the therapeutic process. The scene also depicts empathic listening, the development of hope, and fighting one’s fears to overcome the effects of a traumatic experience. Additionally, it shows that a cognitive connection can be developed to enhance the change of undesirable thoughts and behavior.
Interacting with the “Speak” film and its contents had some personal implications for me as a therapist. It was an eye-opener for me on the issue of childhood and adolescent trauma and treatment. I connected to the movie at a personal level. My passion for dealing with children and adolescents, especially clients who have experienced childhood and adolescent trauma, made me more alert as the movie scenes played. I have severally had trauma patients, but this movie made me have a deeper understanding of what these clients have gone through before being brave enough to seek counseling and therapy help.
Trauma clients, especially victims of sexual assault and abuse, are usually hesitant to seek help due to fear of being judged or the notion that no one cares, and even if they got to share with anyone, they would not get help. The movie made me realize that exposure to an environment and conditions that remind a client about the traumatic experience greatly affects the client.
However, it is possible to overcome one’s fears and address the problem just as the movie’s main character overcame her fears and shared the traumatic experience with her ex-best friend who had begun dating the boy who raped her. She considered addressing it since it was one of the reminders of the traumatic experience.
According to Vanderzee et al. (2018), the best treatment options for childhood/adolescent trauma are trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, child-parent psychotherapy, and parent-child interaction therapy. The movie uses cognitive behavioral therapy facilitated by the protagonist’s friend. He makes Melinda realize that if she wants to achieve something, she should pick a standpoint and support it until she reaches her goal.
Eventually, she can speak and tell her ex-best friend about the rape incident. The movie has challenged my thinking on cognitive behavioral therapy. Despite believing that it is one of the best treatment interventions for childhood and adolescent therapy, it has made me understand that trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy should also include gradual exposure to reminders of the traumatic event to promote total healing.
In the movie, it is impossible for Melinda to completely avoid the school environment, her friends, and the senior student responsible for her trauma, yet they are the major reminders. At first, they affected her considerably and even contributed to the deteriorating of her selective mutism. However, towards the end of the movie, Melinda can meet and address her friends without adverse psychological reactions to the reminders and the school environment. Therefore, gradual exposure to the reminders of the traumatic experience and verbal narration of the thoughts significantly enhances positive outcomes in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
With this understanding, I will diversify my treatment therapy interventions, especially when using trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. I will include the development of coping skills and gradual exposure to the reminders of the traumatic experience as a way of teaching the child/adolescent the management of being exposed to them, especially when they are unavoidable.
Just as the scoping skill (art classes) worked for Melinda, I will strive to ensure that my client and I look for something that they can enjoy doing and use it as a coping skill to counter the adverse psychological reaction of post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, I will always ensure that I gradually expose my client to the reminders of the traumatic event throughout the therapeutic process while teaching them on how to manage the exposure to the reminders, especially when they are unavoidable.
Speak movie considerably impacted my thinking professionally. It opened me up to an understanding of the importance of maintaining professionalism in therapeutic relationships with clients. It also gave me clear insight into handling post-traumatic clients, especially children and adolescents. Furthermore, the movie has helped me appreciate the importance of setting therapy goals in collaboration with the client and how I can individualize therapy interventions to ensure they best suit the client’s needs.
The information and learning acquired from this will greatly influence my delivery of therapy interventions and services movie. I will pay more attention to the relationship I maintain with my clients and consider that a good therapeutic relationship with the client determines the success of the therapy intervention. While handling clients with post-traumatic stress disorder and children and adolescents, I will be keen to use evidence-based and best-practice therapies such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
I will also work with the caregivers of children and adolescents presenting with selective mutism as a manifestation of PTSD since they can be instrumental in helping the child/adolescent overcome the condition. Research shows that working closely with caregivers and the people the client interacts with eases the therapy process and promotes faster recovery (Zakszeski, 2018).
Additionally, I will collaborate with the clients in setting the goals for the therapeutic process. In goal setting, I will allow the client to take the lead and only facilitate the process. Collaborative goal setting promotes therapy adherence and makes the client feel valued and in charge of the process. I will also employ empathic listening, and build a foundation of trust, to encourage the client to open up and participate actively in the therapeutic process.
There are various scenes in the movie that I strongly agree with based on my professional level of understanding. Scene one of the film begins with a representation of selective mutism as a by-product of post-traumatic stress disorder. More so, this condition is similarly depicted as a by-product of depression resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ascherman (2021) notes that selective mutism in children and adolescents can be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder and can also be a symptom of the same. I strongly agree with the scene depicting selective mutism associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. I also agree with the depiction of the fact that post-traumatic stress disorder worsens with the victims’ silence and the inability to share about the incident. It is essential to encourage trauma victims to speak up and share their experiences, just as David encouraged Melinda to open up.
I learned several things from the movie that will make me a more competent therapist. They include the importance of empathic listening, encouraging the clients to share their experiences but not forcing them to talk, and customizing therapies for clients based on their differences and cultures.
Empathic listening builds trust between the therapist and the client, creates a more effective relationship, and eases the therapeutic process. It also encourages the client to open up and share more sensitive details of the traumatic experience. Even though I will require patients to share their experience, I will try my best to encourage them and not to look like forcing them.
The coping skills that work for one client may not work for the other. Thus, I will focus on individualizing various specifics of the therapeutic process to ensure that it suits the client and that it is the one that would work best for them. I will also consider the client’s cultural background and develop culturally sensitive therapy interventions.
Interacting with speak (2004) movie and its contents was a necessary learning experience and an eye-opener on the issue of therapy and treatment for childhood and adolescent trauma. It has also painted the real-life experience of trauma incidences and their effects on children and adolescents. More so, it pointed out the symptoms and reactions of children and adolescents toward traumatic experiences. The movie has positively impacted my professional, personal and therapeutic thinking, as discussed above.
Ascherman, L. I. (2021). Assessment and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Physician Assistant Clinics, 6(3), 441-456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpha.2021.03.001
Klonek, F., Will, T., Ianiro-Dahm, P., & Kauffeld, S. (2020). Opening the career counseling black box: Behavioral mechanisms of empathy and working alliance. Journal of Career Assessment, 28(3), 363–380. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072719865159
ShaLzer, J. (2004), Speak. Film
Vanderzee, K. L., Sigel, B. A., Pemberton, J. R., & John, S. G. (2018). Treatments for Early Childhood Trauma: Decision Considerations for Clinicians. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 12(4), 515–528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0244-6
Zakszeski, B. (2018). Best practices in assessment and intervention for childhood selective Mutism. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 44(3), 109-116. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03544670
Zhang, X., Tanana, M., Weitzman, L., Narayanan, S., Atkins, D., & Imel, Z. (2022). You never know what you will get: Large-scale assessment of therapists’ supportive counseling skill use. Psychotherapy. Advanced Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pst0000460
Movie Review: \”Speak\” Assignment Instructions
Please review the movie called \"Speak\" ________________________________ MOVIE REVIEW ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS OVERVIEW Review the movie called SPEAK which is focused on childhood/adolescent crises/trauma. You to critique the strong trauma theme and then complete a critique the movie as it relates to the topic of trauma. Give particular attention to how you might use the ideas presented in each movie to counsel children/adolescents who are facing a crisis or dealing with trauma. This assignment should have a title page which will have your name, the course, the instructor, the assignment # (Movie review #1), and the date. (Relates to learning outcomes A, B, C, D). INSTRUCTIONS The Movie Review Assignment requires you to interact with the content of the movies in a way that allows for an understanding of the impact that movies can have on the therapeutic process. Please start with a title page that has the title of the paper, student name, Liberty University, and our course, TRMA 800. You should adhere to the following format in completing your movie reviews: 1) The Review: Give your impression of the movie with only the briefest description of the plot. Resist the urge to retell the whole plot of the movie, instead sharing the scenes that had the greatest impact on your thinking or the most potential for use within the therapeutic process. What aspects of the movie should the viewer look for if they have not seen the movie and what aspects/scenes do you feel warrant further reflection and why? This section should be at least 600 words in length. 2) Therapeutic Implications: Having noted the scenes that have value for use in the therapeutic process, what is the specific value that you see for use in the counseling process? For example, if you observe emotional outbursts, angry tirades, attempts at connection, empathic listening, etcâ€¦ point out the scene and the way in which it could be used to enhance your clientâ€™s understanding of the skill/technique you are attempting to teach. How would you use this scene to make an emotional, cognitive, or spiritual connection? What is your rationale for choosing this scene? This section should be at least 600 words in length. 3) Personal Implications: How did you connect with the movie on a personal level? How did it confirm or challenge some of your perceptions of Child/Adolescent Trauma and its treatment? How will you utilize this information personally? This section should be at least 600 words in length. 4) Professional Implications: How did this movie impact your thinking professionally? How will it inform and impact your delivery of therapeutic interventions/services. Were there any scenes that you strongly agreed/disagreed with on a professional level and why? What did you learn from this movie that will make you a more competent therapist? This section should be at least 600 words in length. Please note: Your grade on the Movie Review Assignments will depend on the manner in which you address each of these four dimensions of response to your chosen movies. The material should be engaged and responded to at a doctoral level. Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool. Learning Outcomes Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to: â€¢ Describe and explain an overview of Crisis prevention and Intervention in our school systems. â€¢ Develop an understanding of the development of an informed/qualified team approach to school crises. â€¢ Explore topical areas of school based crises including accidents, illness, violence, disasters, and death.