Bibliotherapy is nothing new, with roots dating back many generations. Many people embrace the idea that reading holds healing properties that can improve mental and physical health. While the approach has obvious benefits in the realm of psychology, it can also have a profound effect on physical wellbeing as well.
The cleansing act of using written material as a cathartic vehicle is not a new concept, either. The approach is similar to the idea of purging emotions, practiced by the ancient Greeks. Typically, the Greeks used tragic plays as a way to remove negative emotions and fears. As people developed reading skills, the practice moved from the stage to the page.
Catharsis involves working through emotions with the help of an outside source. In some cases, a good cry can offer excellent health benefits in the mental and physical realms. Purging other emotions such as anger, fear, jealousy and anxiety can be beneficial as well.
Self-expression is healing in many cases. Bottling up emotions can wreak havoc on a person’s health and mental state. Writing therapies often accompany bibliotherapy, allowing the individual to release thoughts and emotions through the writing process. Reading serves as a source of inspiration as self-expression is fostered.
Language as therapy is relatively common. It just isn’t typically creative in nature. Consider some psychiatric therapies that incorporate words and language:
• Talk therapy
• Cognitive therapy
• Interpersonal Therapy
• Humanistic therapies
• Eclectic approaches
Nearly every aspect of mental process has some connection with words. Using creative writing, self-help books and other written resources is the foundation of bibliotherapy.
Eric Digest Biblotherapy explores the approach, noting that the reading helps to make a connection with the person’s experience. The relevance of the written work to the individual’s daily life is an important aspect to consider. If the reader can relate to the writing, he has a better chance of benefiting from it.
Making connections with others is a natural desire for most people. This includes individuals diagnosed with problems that disturb the ability to make social connections, including autism and social anxiety. Some methods used to treat autism incorporate reading.
Social Stories are prime examples of treatments that help individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum of disorders. The approach uses real-life situations, offering a “script” for the person to follow. This form of biblotherapy helps to create expectations while helping the individual to make transitions and to interact with others.
Bibliotherapy can be used for a number of different reasons, according to the article on Eric Digest. Reasons listed include:
• Developing self-image
• Understand behavior
• Developing objectivity about self
• Developing interests in others
• Relieve stress
• Promote empathy
• Offer a number of different solutions
• Promote communication
• Developing problem-solving skills
Bibliotherapy offers many benefits that promote healthy mental and emotional states. This is considered by many to be one of the most important components to a person’s physical health in the realm of alternative medicine.