What Is Bibliotherapy?

Bibliotherapy has been used since we have first discovered how to speak with each other, writing/drawing our pictures on the cave walls to express the story that we wanted to tell each other. To distract from fear, or to entertain for laughter, it has been brought up in us to express our story whichever way we see fit. In this article, I will focus on the Modality of bibliotherapy, and explain the methods behind it that help participants all around the world express their inner emotions and traumas. Being able to use written word to get ready for the healing process and enhancing the creativity of having either an individual response or group response. Storytelling, Journal Writing, Reflective and Creative writing can all be used in Bibliotherapy. Throughout this article I will discuss to you what the definition of Bibliotherapy is and two separate articles that have addressed the therapeutic need for them in real life situations.

So, what is Bibliotherapy?

Poetry therapy, a form of expressive arts therapy, involves the therapeutic use of poems, narratives, and other spoken or written media to promote well-being and healing. (Chavis, G.G. (2011)

Here are two example of what Bibliotherapy looks like in reality:

“Helping Children Cope through Literature” By Lowe, Danielle F. After Danielle Lowe witnessed the wide array of emotions (sadness, anger, laughter) after the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center, she decided to help the children cope in a healthier way than watching the T.V. screens constantly. Danielle found that books (literature) are what brought peace and stability back into the classroom and in areas of study outside of her realm including master’s degree candidates. The art of Storytelling is as old as time because it legitimately is how we tell our story of life, what is going on all around us before we were around and what might happen to us later on in life; Creativity and imagination can thrive in Storytelling because there is no ceiling that needs to be shattered or any rules that need to be followed, it is all about expression. Even though 9/11 was a traumatic experience for all, a more everyday approach would see the many children facing cultural differences, poverty, abuse, divorce and so many other aspects that might make it hard to focus on responsibilities at school or at home. Storytelling is a way to cope with these stressors in their lives and to help assist them through personal trials and tribulations. Bibliotherapy helps children or readers, in general, relate to the character and cope with their own emotions, it can be very therapeutic to see that they are not the only person dealing with a crisis in their life. This insight can be vital in having the reader Santana-Bykofsky 4 self-reflect into their own emotions and have better knowledge on how to solve problems further in the future. “Strengthening Elementary School Bully Prevention with Bibliotherapy” By: Heath, Melissa Allen; Moulton, Emily; Dyches, Tina Taylor; Prater, Mary Anne; Brown, Alec It’s no surprise that bullying has become such an epidemic that has sent children to face some of the worst decisions and parents with the most heartbreaking news they could hear in their lifetime, but it is a reality in our lifetime. When looked at bullying from the other side, children are processing this insane amount of anger, frustration, and violent behaviors. With both of those main subjects out of the way, the only other subject it hurts is the standing surprisingly; Children who often witness bullying feel powerless and worry about becoming the next victim. Research started to be around anti-bullying programs put into schools, and the results came back mixed. It confused many to see that the bullying in schools did not change much with the programs or without, and teachers/parents/volunteers were left scratching their heads on what to do next to help all children and bring knowledge to the schools. Bibliotherapy was then introduced to the schools (specifically to replace the anti-bullying program) to help children aid in learning social skills and normal developmental challenges. Instead of the books specifically focusing on what you SHOULDN’T do, they focused on what you SHOULD be doing to fulfill yourself and the relationship that surrounds you. It focused on positive reinforcement for the teachers and parents and encouraging kindness to others.

Through Storytelling presented in Case #1, Bibliotherapy shows us the power of coping with traumatic and every day problems in our lives through the written word, and Case #2 shows us the power of influence that written/spoken word has on an influence on a child during developmental time and how to behave properly to others. Bibliotherapy can be used in so many avenues that it really is such a strong modality in the Creative Therapies, expressing our thoughts and emotions through language can such an important coping skill that anyone can use. You don’t have to be an accomplished author, or a poet since birth to release the emotions inside that have caused you anguish; Expressing how you feel through written/spoken words can help take away the power from the situation that has caused you so much anger/frustration/fear.

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