Harry Potter and the healing power of magic

As I revisited the enchanting world of Harry Potter recently, I found myself witnessing the films through an entirely new lens. Having immersed myself in the realms of therapy and psychology since my last viewing, I was delighted to discover a treasure trove of profound insights and therapy metaphors.


Training as a therapist offered me a fresh perspective, allowing me to uncover layers of therapeutic wisdom intricately woven into the magical narrative. Each spell, character interaction, and magical concept seemed to hold a mirror to various aspects of human psychology, resilience, and personal growth.

These newfound observations painted Harry's journey not just as a heroic tale but also as a profound exploration of the human psyche, revealing timeless lessons and therapeutic parallels waiting to be unveiled. Here are some of the key moments that stood out to me.

The Dementor’s kiss and depression

Dementors, the dark creatures representing despair and depression, perform the Dementor’s Kiss, sucking the soul out of individuals, leaving them in a perpetual state of hopelessness. This can be likened to severe depression, where individuals feel a loss of self, overwhelmed by despair.

A somatic approach might involve helping individuals to reconnect with their bodies, using anchoring techniques to evoke positive states and reframe negative beliefs, thereby empowering them to combat their inner dementors.

Patronus charm and circle of excellence

Harry Potter's journey to conjure a Patronus reflects the circle of excellence, an NLP exercise aiming to access resourceful states by anchoring positive experiences. This is done through accessing memories of a specific state, and using your body to access it. In the movie, Harry does a similar thing, he harnesses the power of positive memories, his happiest moments with loved ones, to develop a Patronus that wards off dementors.

Pensieve and trauma processing

The Pensieve, a magical object used to review and even enter memories, is a powerful metaphor for trauma processing. It allows characters to revisit traumatic events in a detached safer perspective, akin to therapeutic interventions like EMDR or the rewind technique, where individuals can reprocess traumatic memories safely. 

Boggart and facing fears

A Boggart is a shape-shifting entity that takes the form of the viewer's worst fear. The spell to combat a Boggart, “Riddikulus,” transforms the fear into something funny, symbolising the power of reframing and humour in overcoming fears.

In therapy, we use imagery rescripting for flashbacks and nightmares to help people reframe the story and regain power over the ending. This helps change the emotional imprint of the memory.

Liquid luck and placebo effect

The placebo effect is vividly portrayed through the Felix Felicis, or Liquid Luck. Ron's belief in having consumed the potion leads to heightened confidence and fortunate outcomes, he was the star of the match when he believed he had drank the juice! This really showcases the potency of belief and visualisation in influencing behaviour and performance. 

As the scenes passed and each movie ended, the parallels between magic and psychology became ever more apparent. The wizarding world, with its spells, challenges, and metaphors, provided a rich tapestry reflecting the complexities of the human mind and the healing potential embedded within our own narratives. From facing fears to processing trauma, each magical element echoed therapeutic techniques, underscoring the resilience and transformative power within us.

Harry's journey, beyond its fantastical allure, emerged as a profound guide through the realms of resilience, self-discovery, and overcoming adversity. Much like Harry, we each possess the ability to harness our inner magic, navigating our own trials and emerging stronger. The enchanting saga of Harry Potter serves as a testament to the universal truths embedded in our personal narratives and the remarkable potential for growth and healing within each of us.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
London, EC2A
Written by Laura Prendiville, MSC, MCCP.
London, EC2A

I'm an accredited Contemporary Psychotherapist. I use creative and dynamic approaches to working with trauma, anxiety and relationship challenges.

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals