The Harry Potter series is full of creatures and storylines that parallel real-life adversities like depression, PTSD and grief in a heightened reality. Dr. Janina Scarlet says these stories are so powerful that she uses them to help people cope in real-life therapy sessions.
Dr. Janina Scarlet, a clinical therapist and author of Superhero Therapy: A Hero’s Journey through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
It’s the time of year when we dress up in costumes, head to haunted houses, and shell out candy to trick-or-treaters. But why do we do those things? We take a look at the traditions of Halloween and what makes being scared so fun.
Ben Armstrong, co-owner of Netherworld Haunted House and president of America Haunts
Dr. Janina Scarlet, clinical psychologist and author
Elements of the Harry Potter series such as dementors and patronuses can be viewed symbolically as representative of the struggle of good versus evil. Many readers connect emotionally to Harry’s loss, struggle, and battle to fight his own demons. Clinical therapist Dr. Janina Scarlet builds on this connection by using superheroes, witches and wizards to help her patients cope with their depression or PTSD.
In her first book Superhero Therapy: A hero’s journey through acceptance and commitment therapy, Scarlet describes how she uses superheroes to help veterans deal with their PTSD. Dr. Scarlet’s patients select their favorite superhero, and then discuss how their own experience may relate. She says that the vulnerabilities of each superhero allows the patients to dive into their own flaws and overcome them.
Along with superhero therapy, Dr. Scarlet uses her personal favorite book series, Harry Potter. Scarlet says that the Harry Potter series truly demonstrates how to overcome traumatic experiences. When reading a story about a boy that deals with the loss of his parents, people can either relate and learn from him or sympathize for him. Although Harry may live in a fictional world, reading his story allows people to recognize he has similar experiences and feelings as all of us.
Dr. Scarlet talks about finding the patronus in all her patients to help them beat their depression. She says if we can all connect with happy memories as Harry did, then we can start to overcome any personal dementors in our lives. If you would like to know more about how Harry Potter can help you, keep an eye out for Dr. Scarlet’s Harry Potter therapy book coming soon.
Synopsis: It’s the time of year when all the ghosts and goblins, witches and monsters, superheroes and villains don their Halloween best and head off to trick-or-treat, party or walk through a haunted house. Why do we dress up for the holiday? What do our costumes say about us? Why do we love to be frightened on this night in the year? We talk to a psychologist and a haunted attraction specialist about these issues, and also take a look at where some of our Halloween traditions came from.
Host: Gary Price. Guests: Ben Armstrong is co-owner of Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta, and president of America Haunts, an organization of the top haunted attractions in the U.S.; Dr. Janina Scarlet is a clinical psychologist, scientist and self-proclaimed “full-time geek.” She’s also a practitioner of “Superhero Therapy,” and is coming out with a book by that title next July.