Bibliotherapy is when children, teens, and adults read a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction, in order to educate and help treat any mental disorders. This supplemental use of therapy goes back to Ancient Egyptians as they acknowledged the power of words and felt like a library was a house for healing the soul. The library of Ancient Greeks were considered sacred. In World War I and II, books were used to help soldiers returning from war to deal with the physical and emotional effects they went through. Abraham Lincoln even felt that books helped present empathy and shared experiences. Social workers, educators, and health care professionals can teach patients that they are not alone in their problems.
Developmental bibliotherapy can be used in educational settings to teach them about issues like puberty, important milestones, and bodily functions that can be explained better in a book. For example, a teenage girl can read “Are You There G-d? It’s Me, Margaret” and learn about what teenage girls go through while menstruating, have crushes, and religious conflicts. Books have a way of providing hope for a positive change whether you read the biography of someone who is experiencing the same mental disorder as you or a fictional book of someone going through the same problems.
There are different kinds of bibliotherapy such as prescriptive bibliotherapy where you use specific reading materials and workbooks to address mental health issues. Books on Prescription bibliotherapy provides books to patients that are on specific mental health needs prescribed by professionals. Creative bibliotherapy is using novels, poetry, short stories, biographies, and plays for patients to improve their mental health and help gain insight into their own life.
Bibliotherapy is not used as a main mode of therapy but as part of the healing process as well as waiting to receive therapy. Just like in the U.K. for those that have to wait six months until their appointment, they can use bibliotherapy while they wait if they do not need immediate therapy.
This mode of therapy can help treat depression, mild substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, communication issues, PTSD, grief, and family issues. Bibliotherapy works in increasing empathy, impacting behavior, and enhancing the mind. For example, a study showed those reading Harry Potter were more empathetic towards minority groups. Books can help you recognize underlying mental issues and to teach you that we all share experiences.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.