The role of gender in the presentation of mental health clinicians in the movies: Implications for clinical practice

Richard J. Bischoff, Annette Debolt Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


The presentation of mental health clinicians in the movies was investigated. Assuming movies both reflect and influence cultural stereotypes, understanding the stereotypes as portrayed in the movies will assist therapists to address proactively clients' preconceived myths about treatment. Researchers identified 99 movie characters depicting mental health clinicians in 61 movies meeting time-period and box-office gross criteria. Chi square analyses revealed that female characters were more likely to be sexualized and that male characters were more likely to be portrayed as incompetent. The findings are explained in terms of the gender-incongruent role males and females occupy as therapists. The position of power that accompanies the role of therapist is incongruent with the socially prescribed and less powerful position females occupy in society. Sexualizing female clinicians may serve to redistribute power in a way that appeals to the socially constructed mythology. Stereotypically, males are seen as ill equipped to handle the relationship and emotional problems of others and so are in a gender-incongruent role as psychotherapist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-189
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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