by Marli Naidoo
Bibliotherapy is not a well-known form of therapy, but has been in existence for centuries. The use of literature as a healing method dates back to ancient Greece, when Greek libraries were viewed as holy places with healing powers. In the early nineteenth century, doctors started using bibliotherapy as an intervention technique in rehabilitation and the treatment of mental heath issues. During the first and second world wars bibliotherapy was used to help returning soldiers to handle and overcome physical and emotional concerns.
What exactly is bibliography? It is the facilitation of psychological growth through reading. Reading can help people understand their problems better, assist the positive results of other treatment, normalise psychological help and issues, and cultivate hope for positive change. It can also accelerate and sharpen the therapeutic process by providing a potential format for therapeutic work outside sessions.
There are two clear categories for bibliotherapy: developing and therapeutic.
Developing therapy is mostly used in educational institutions to address typical children’s and adolescents’ subjects such as puberty, bodily functions or development milestones. Teachers and doctors encourage parents regularly to apply these methods at home.
Therapeutic therapy can take on different forms, and can be used together with all kinds of therapeutic frameworks.
Bibliotherapy can be applied in different ways. You can read books prescribed by your therapist, or you can choose books yourself to address your specific problem.
Some libraries have bibliotherapeutic training projects. They have lists of books recommended by therapists for different areas of growth and instruction. These include subjects such as adoption, self-image, divorce, mourning etc.
Creative bibliotherapy use imaginative literature such as novels, short stories, poems, plays and biographies to promote psychological wellbeing.
In South Africa bibliotherapy in itself is not a lone-standing career direction. Psychologists, therapists, counsellors, pastors, teachers, parents and you yourself can use bibliotherapy in instruction, and to promote healing. Hints, sources and training are also available online.
THE APPLICATION OF BIBLIOTHERAPY WITH PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN LIVING IN A VIOLENT SOCIETY. http://etd.uwc.ac.za/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11394/1364/Mitchell-Kamalie_MBIBL_2002.pdf;sequence=1
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/reading-minds/201910/bibliotherapy-using-books-help-and-heal
Good Therapy: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy