Using the manga/anime Naruto as graphic medicine to engage clients in conversational model therapy

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Shaun Halovic, PhD, Westmead Psychotherapy Program, Cumberland Hospital, and Department of Medicine, Sydney University.



Graphic medicine holds promise for overcoming a client’s initial dismissal of psychotherapeutic treatment by improving their agency in their own treatment. Graphic medicine refers to the use of comics or graphic novels to facilitate the mutual understanding of psychotherapeutic processes, and may be potentially used to stimulate enjoyable discussion of a range of different experiences that may traditionally be difficult to discuss due to clients’ shame, vulnerability, fear of retraumatization, and/or the stigma of mental illness. I outline how the Japanese comic (i.e., manga) and animated film (i.e., anime) series Naruto can be used as graphic medicine for conversational model therapy (CMT), stimulating conversations without triggering the distress underlying a client’s coping mechanisms. Various concepts of CMT will be discussed within the conceptual, linguistical, and metaphorical framework already supplied by Naruto. These therapeutic conversations can potentially amplify the client’s feelings of positive affect for the manga/anime, while still relating with the similarities between their own difficulties and the negative affect portrayed by the characters.


Keywords: conversational model, graphic medicine, psychotherapy, popular media, psychodynamic theory, anime


Address for correspondence:
Shaun Halovic