Book Notes: Bibliotherapy: the Right Book of the Right Time

Bibliotherapy: the Right Book of the Right Time

By: Claudia E. Cornett and Charles F. Cornett

I          Introduction

A       In short, Bibliotherapy = reading catharsis

B       The book is a way to show counselors how books can relieve every day pressures

C       It shows how books can be used as a form of therapy

II       What is Bibliotherapy?

A       Simple definition: the use of books to help people

B       It can be assumed in Bibliotherapy that more is going on than simply reading for pleasure

C       Bibliotherapy has preventative measures

D       Bibliotherapy is not a solution for deep-rooted psychological problems that require medical intervention

E        Casual book recommendations by friends are not considered Bibliotherapy

F        Bibliotherapy is the deliberate intervention with well-defined goals

III     The History of Bibliotherapy

A       First recorded use of Bibliotherapy was by Aristotle

B       Epigraph on the library atAlexandriaread: “Medicine for the Mind”

C       Dedication on the library atThebes: “Healing of the Soul”

D       By the end of the 18th century, books were being used to treat the mentally ill inFrance,England andItaly

E        Term Bibliotherapy was first coined by Samuel Crothers in 1916

IV    Bibliotherapy and Human Needs

A       Briefly discusses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

B       Contains lists of Affective changes and Cognitive changes on page 15 and 16

V       The Bibliotherapeutic Process

A       In each case, a reader can bring to the situation some past experiences and emotional needs that the book is able to address

B       In 1949, Caroline Shrodes identified the progressive stages of Bibliotherapy: identification, catharsis, and insight

C       During Identification, the reader becomes empathetic with a character

D       The reader’s needs become paralleled with that of the character

E        The reader sees what he/she wants to see, either consciously or not

F        Identification lays groundwork for Catharsis

G       Catharsis definition: the release of pent-up emotions

H       Once the emotions have been released, the reader’s mind is clear for more rational thinking

I          Insight is the result of Catharsis

J         It is the integration of mind and emotion

K      Solutions are identified in Insight

L        In order for the Bibliotherapy to work, a reader must experience all 3 stages

M     More often than not, a reader will stop at the superficial identification with a character

N      Not everything someone reads will have a full 3-stage impact

VI    The Methodology of Bibliotherapy

A       Preparation Steps

1        Identify student needs

a         Gather the information beforehand

b        Strategies vary from very structured to informal

c         Identification can be done via observations, school records, conferences, and student writings (gives examples of some starters)

2        Match them with appropriate materials

a         While books and short stories are the core of Bibliotherapy, audio-and visualtapes, filmstrips, and slides can be used

b        Some criteria for choosing a book:

i           Appropriate reading level?

ii         Written at interest level for child’s maturity?

iii        Do major themes match child’s needs?

iv       Are characters believable enough for reader to emphasize?

v         Is there creative problem-solving?

vi       Is the background setting believable?

vii      Is the book’s format appropriate?

c         A card file should be made up for easy reference for appropriate book

3        Decide on next meeting time to discuss and use follow-up materials

a         Introductory activities shouldn’t take more than a few minutes

b        Remember>>>Bibliotherapy cannot be forced

c         If motivation has not been demonstrated by student, he/she may not be ready for Bibliotherapy

d        Amounts of reading time need to be flexible

e         A child should never be made to feel guilty for not finishing a book, that defeats the purpose of Bibliotherapy

f          Choose appropriate atmosphere

g         At times, it can be feasible to do group Bibliotherapy sessions

4        Prepare materials

B       Implementation Steps

1        Motivate with introductory materials

a         Expect the child to enjoy the book

b        If reading starts to feel like a chore, the book will be put down

2        Provide reading/viewing/listening experience

a         Other materials can be used other than books

b        ^^^^This is important for children who have reading difficulties

3        Allow for incubation time

a         It takes time for info to be integrated

b        If possible, follow-up activities should occur the day after reading is completed

c         A child should never feel rushed

4        Provide a follow-up

a         Discussion focuses on the Whys, not the What’s, with the child drawing the conclusions

b        Bibliotherapists should give Wait and Silent time during discussion, and not prompt unless needed

c         Wait time = therapist waits for an answer after asking question

d        Silent time = therapist takes a few seconds to ponder response given

i           This shows the child that their answer has merit and deserves consideration

5        Conduct an evaluation and steer student towards closure

a         After each book, needs should be reevaluated

b        Child’s input is important as well

VII  Attributes of the Bibliotherapist

A       Areas of Knowledge (Background)

1        Psychology

2        Counseling

3        Teaching theory and methodology

4        Children’s literature

5        Child development

6        Sociology

7        Physiology

8        Biology

B       Skills Needed

1        Assess student needs and interests

2        Prescribe appropriate materials

3        Evaluate materials

4        Planning individual and group sessions

5        Ask questions on all levels

6        Demonstrate behaviors of a good listener

7        Translate basic learning principles into practical and creative strategies

8        Effectively communicate with kids

9        Evaluate sessions to determine effectiveness of materials

10    Behave professionally>>>observing legal and ethical right to children’s privacy

11    Use all communication channels to bring about expression

12    Consult others when referral to a specialist is needed

C       Attitudes and Values

1        Believe in dignity and worth of each person

2        Have broad experience background

3        Be friendly, outgoing, approachable and available

4        Accepting of a person’s uniqueness, even if it is negative

5        Empathetic

6        Enthused about reading and be well read

7        Positive and optimistic

8        Open-minded and flexible

9        Have mature judgment

10    Handle stress and be emotionally stable

11    Objective, responsible, and organized

12    Intrinsically motivated

D       Unfortunately, few universities offer specific courses

E        And even fewer have comprehensive training programs

VIII           Limitations of Bibliotherapy

A       There is potential for harm with Bibliotherapy>>>>wrong book at the wrong time can aggravate the situation

B       Bibliotherapy success can be limited to:

1        Readiness of child to see self in mirror

2        Therapist’s skill in directing a child through all steps, particularly follow-up

3        Degree and nature of problem

4        Availability of appropriate materials

5        Manner in which book was presented

6        Rationalization tendency of some problems when reading about them

7        Realizations of process’s limits

8        Ability of student to transfer insight into real life

9        Tendency to use literature as an escape>>>causing increased withdrawal

10    Relationship between student and therapist

11    Training and course availability in Bibliotherapy

C       Not foolproof, but a good adjunct

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