Ordinary People, 1980 movie

We have all seen movies with psychologists just passively listening to a patient on the couch and in other movies they are portrayed in a more comedic light (Analyze This).  The key element for success in therapy, however, is the beneficial relationship that develops between the patient and the therapist.  Ordinary People is a movie from the 80s that portrays that relationship very well.  

It portrays a family torn apart by tension and tragedy.  The teenage son (played by Timothy Hutton) cannot connect with his mother (played by Mary Tyler Moore) but does find a connection with his father (played by Donald Sutherland).  He is able to get through his grief and pain from the loss of his brother with the help of his psychologist.  Judd Hirsch artfully plays the role of a psychologist who knows how to connect with an adolescent in psychological pain.

This movie, directed by Robert Reford, explores family dynamics in the light of tremendous grief and shows the redemptive quality of good therapy.  It is well worth streaming the movie at home.