It’s easy to recognize the value of literacy in our lives. Reading increases our access to education and broadens our social world. Reading develops emotional and mental strength that other modalities of sharing ideas and information cannot replicate. For example, watching a movie made from a book is a different experience than reading the book itself. When we watch a movie we surrender our own creative interpretation of the story to that of the filmmaker; we are removed from the potential of creating an otherwise deep and personal relationship with characters and events that are depicted with written words and animated by our own imagination.
From a therapeutic point of view, books can be tools that allow us to connect deeply with others. Bibliotherapy, or “book” + “therapy”, is a technique that can be employed to help navigate life’s challenges at any age, but is an especially helpful tool when working with children and young adults. Bibliotherapy introduces important, and oftentimes difficult themes from a safe distance. As we engage in the process of understanding a problem and discovering solutions through the lens of a book, we develop the ability to then generalize those same solution-oriented skills to our own struggles.
Reading self-help books is another type of bibliotherapy. One important truth to keep in mind when reading this type of book, however, is that solutions are rarely one-size-fits-all. Some self-help books can be overly prescriptive in their suggested applications, so don’t be intimidated by “expert” claims. You are the expert on yourself!
I have created a bibliotherapy blog for those who are interested in using this tool with children and adolescents – check it out if you have a minute!