Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Bibliotherapist

#Books and Your #MentalHealth


Should we talk to a psychologist whenever we’re haunted or challenged by mental provocations?

Bibliotherapy

Image Courtesy of Johanna Ljungblom ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/SheCat-53642

And, should we wait—keep plodding through a complicated life—till mental or emotional issues become full-blown mental health crises?

What if we could just find the right books to read?

And, what if they weren’t “self-help” or psychology books?

Back in March, I wrote the article, Can Fiction Really Be Good for What Ails You?

Here are just a few brief excerpts:

“You wouldn’t have a hard time convincing an avid reader that books are tools for life (not just escapist entertainment or exercises in abstract thought).”

“…that’s the thing about reading. Fiction has the benefit of allowing you to momentarily bypass the overwhelming burden of the self. It’s not about you. And yet it is.”

What’s being talked about in that article is Bibliotherapy—the Curative Power of Books.

What might trouble a few folks is that people set up bibliotherapy practices—what if they prescribe exactly the Wrong books?

Some complain about librarians acting as bibliotherapists.

In an article on a site maintained by workers at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh—Bibliotherapy and Me—this quote from the American Library Association is shared:

“The use of books selected on the basis of content in a planned reading program designed to facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from mental illness or emotional disturbance. Ideally, the process occurs in three phases: personal identification of the reader with a particular character in the recommended work, resulting in psychological catharsis, which leads to rational insight concerning the relevance of the solution suggested in the text to the reader’s own experience…”

The article also links to a listing of books related to bibliotherapy in their library

So, since I’m a person who’s learned to be wary of doctors (of the body or the mind) and cautious of folks who act like doctors, I thought I’d share links to those books (Not every book in their list—just the ones I feel an individual might use for themselves or their family…) so you could check them out (in a library if your book budget is broke…) and perhaps apply this therapeutic technique to potential mental/emotional difficulties affecting your life

Biblio-Poetry Therapy : The Interactive Process : A Handbook

Reading to Heal : How to Use Bibliotherapy to Improve Your Life

The Novel Cure : From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

After the Crisis : Using Storybooks to Help Children Cope

Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Abuse Issues

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Can Fiction Really Be Good for What Ails You?


My Best Friend sent me a link to a fascinating article on a fascinating site…

Bibliotherapy

Image Courtesy of Adam Ciesielski ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/adamci-33882

First the site—Book Riot:

*We create.
* We always prefer the book to the movie.
* We riot as a team.
*We geek out on books, embarrassingly so.
*We’re leaders.
*We practice charity—we give two percent of gross revenue…to organizations whose efforts promote social justice in the areas of literacy, health, gender or educational equity.
*We miss our subway stop cause the book is that good.
*We are non-traditional.
*We believe in family (bookshelves and cats count).

And, the article—I Went to a Bibliotherapist and This Is What Happened.

A few excerpts:

“From Stephen Fry’s thoughts on literature and living with bipolar disorder to “fixing your life” with Virginia Woolf, people are seeing the tangible personal benefits of reading.”

It’s about time :-)

“You wouldn’t have a hard time convincing an avid reader that books are tools for life (not just escapist entertainment or exercises in abstract thought). However, there remains some speculation as to what bibliotherapy actually is.”

My New Oxford American Dictionary says “the use of books as therapy in the treatment of mental or psychological disorders” but do go read what the article says, since different folks apparently think differently about it

“One of the great things about bibliotherapy is its openness. The basic principle – that reading books helps you to ‘read’ your life, and so allows you to better understand it and to live it more fully – can be brought to many situations. But one of the downsides to this openness is that the practice is not highly standardized. You don’t really know what you’re in for if you consult a bibliotherapist (which can be problematic).”

The author goes on to relate her experience with a bibliotherapist at La Bibliothèque Apothicaire, which is fascinating; but; I got to wondering how to apply whatever principles there are in Bibliotherapy to and by myself

So, anyway, the author reveals her issue to the bibliotherapist—“Well, I am finding motherhood un peu difficile.” (my poor translation—“a bit difficult”) and the bibliotherapist immediately starts reading to her from Women Who Run with the Wolves : Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman.

By the way, I Totally recommend that book—especially for men

Potent excerpt from the article:

“Most of us don’t realize that it has been decades since we’ve been read to. Unless you regularly hear sermons on a Sunday morning, you can go the entirety of your adolescent and adult life without anyone reading you a story, which is actually a terrible shame because it is lovely.”

Then:

“So as a follow-up exercise, I was asked to close my eyes and imagine a mother holding her infant….she got me to tell a story by asking questions: What are the they doing? Is there someone else in the room? What kind of furniture is there?”

And:

“Here’s what I found so unique about Katy’s approach. I heard a story, and then I told a story, and then we talked about how the two stories were related, and not once did I have to talk about my feelings. Not once. At times it felt less like a therapy session and more like a discussion from my undergrad lit courses….Yet those seemingly disconnected fictional characters can tell you so much about your experience of the nonfictional world.”

So, I do hope you’ll go read the whole article—really, truly worth it—but, for those who don’t have time, here’s the clincher:

“When I say I didn’t have to talk about my feelings, that doesn’t mean that the experience lacked emotional depth. Actually, it was quite moving. But that’s the thing about reading. Fiction has the benefit of allowing you to momentarily bypass the overwhelming burden of the self. It’s not about you. And yet it is. Bibliotherapy rests on the principle that the story will always be what you bring to it.”

At that point my wondering about the principles and techniques of bibliotherapy came clear—I’ve been doing it by myself for most of my life

Finally, I’m compelled to guide you to the About Page of the site of the article’s author, Bronwyn Averett, who is a Book Doctor
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Grab A Free Novel…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com