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.


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  • Dr. Janina Scarlet, a clinical therapist and author of Superhero Therapy: A hero’s journey through acceptance and commitment therapy

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