Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I feel like this requires a very lengthy response, hehe, I'll do my best.
Psychotherapy is very diverse and subjective. People experience it differently because there are so many factors influencing the relationship between patient and therapist (presenting problem, the patient's personality, the therapist's personality, therapeutic style, motivation, rapport/trust, gender, level of experience, etc.) The therapist's theoretical orientation heavily influences what the sessions look like (i.e., a structured session with a set agenda vs a more free-flowing unstructured session). I suppose all these films represent a facet of therapy. "The Sopranos" also has a good depiction of therapy and the dynamic that goes on between the patient and therapist. "In treatment" is another example. All these depictions feature a less structured free-flowing style of therapy (a.k.a. psychodynamic approach). I can't recall seeing a structured therapy session on film (a.k.a. cognitive-behavioral therapy). However, I have seen examples of this on news magazine shows like Dateline, 20/20, Frontline, etc.
With regard to the therapy scenes depicted in "Ordinary people" and "Good Will Hunting," both patients (Timothy Hutton and Matt Damon) appear to have established a very strong therapeutic relationship and trust with their therapist (Judd Hirsch and Robin Williams). Some argue that the bond or relationship between therapist and patient is the most curative of all factors regardless of their therapeutic style or approach. Anyway, the Matt Damon character was initially resistant to therapy. He barely spoke and was clearly not engaged. He was an angry and tentative patient. In contrast, Timothy Hutton's character appeared more receptive and motivated. Robin Williams' character could only go so far with a patient who is not fully committed to the therapeutic relationship. Perhaps that's why you feel that Good Will Hunting "watered down the subject far more" than Ordinary People.
I hope I answered your question.