Hardly anyone will deny that reading books has magical abilities. That’s why specialists decided to take advantage of their strengths and to create the little-known bibliotherapy.
What is bibliotherapy?
Bibliotherapy is a method of alternative medicine; a type of therapy that is not practiced on its own but as part of the psychological treatment of the patient.
It is used to treat diseases such as agoraphobia, alcoholism, depression, dyslexia, neurosis, low self-esteem, stress, sexual abnormalities, anxiety, and eating disorders.
It is suitable for both adults and children, and bibliotherapy can help in cases of divorce in the family, the death of a close relative or friend, or even adoption.
Bibliotherapy has existed since ancient Greece, and according to the Greeks, literature, and reading are beneficial to one’s thinking and psychological balance. Later, in the 1930s, specialists from the United States began to apply the treatment of books to soldiers.
The method became popular after World War II when many people had mental problems after the war. Today, Britain’s most significant supporters of bibliotherapy are London residents.
What exactly is the healing power of books?
Although not all doctors consider bibliotherapy to be an effective method of treatment, those who approve of the idea have worked hard to prove that books have healing powers.
It is based on a person’s inborn sense of identification with others. In this case, doctors use the main characters in the books,– thus the patient manages to discover the essence of the problem and analyze it.
The patient also sees that he or she is not the only one with such anxieties and that an appropriate solution can be found to overcoming them. Bibliotherapy helps the more private talk about their problems, increase their self-esteem, make them more trustworthy, and boost their mood.
Last but not least, this treatment positively affects literacy and broadens one’s view of the world.
Not every book is suitable for bibliotherapy, however. Typically, genres such as fiction, drama, poetry, and biographical literature are used. The goal is for the book to be more realistic and closer to the situation that the patient has experienced.
A medical practitioner should select a list of literature that matches the patient’s problem. Books must be fascinating and appropriate to the age of the patient and his/her education.
It is desirable for bibliotherapy to be conducted in a therapeutic environment under the control of doctors because results become apparent faster. In milder cases, however, self-help books are allowed for this treatment.
Methods and the disadvantages of bibliotherapy
It is not enough to just feel the outcome of bibliotherapy.
Frequent treatment includes discussions, playing cartoons, or analyzing the characters. The methods are particularly suited to students in specialized classes as they help the teacher establish closer contact with them and gain their trust.
Book treatment is a relatively new method in alternative medicine (regarding its use), so it is normal to have some shortcomings. For example, an appropriate book for a problem cannot always be found.
Choosing the right literature takes time, as this prevents the patient from getting worse. Also, the effect of this treatment has not been thoroughly studied – in some cases, it helps, and in others, the results are delayed.