Bibliotherapy for children

What Bibliotherapy really is

Bibliotherapy essentially involves the use of books to help children and young adults deal with the psychological, emotional and other personal issues that torment their lives. Technically, it has been defined as the use of “literature to bring about a therapeutic interaction between a participant and facilitator.” This method of helping those who face new and often traumatizing life experiences is known to have a lot of benefit especially in helping them to accept the situation at first. As a method of promoting therapeutic interaction between reader and child, Bibliotherapy has become more widespread in recent years.

How it works

For children, one of the most effective ways to bring them face to face with their fears and worries is to present characters (for example, in a book) who face situations that are similar to those in the child’s own life. The child is able to see how the character deals with such situations, and can hopefully apply the same methods of resolution to his or her own personal problems. Books can provide a sense of security and comfort for emotionally penetrating issues, thus placing the issues at a “safe” distance away from the child (inside the book within another character) and thereby allowing the child to comfortably analyze and resolve them. The process sometimes is used diagnostically too in order to identify the problem but works better in therapy hence the name ‘Bibilo’ coming from Bible and ‘therapy’ which signifies helping to resolve conflicts.

Therapeutic process

Bibliotherapy is a highly structured process and involves more than simply reading a particular book to (or together with) a child. The first step in the Bibliotherapy process is “identification,” during which the reader asks the child questions related to characters in the book, or events and ideas present in the story. Alternatively, the reader can answer questions raised by the child him or herself. The next step following this identification is “catharsis,” during which the child’s own emotions become tied up with the story and the child is able to release those emotions. Finally, “discussion” allows the reader to help the child understand his or her own behavior and emotions, and the best ways to deal with or approach them. Discussion helps children understand not only their personal feelings, but also the fact that they are not alone which in itself proves beneficial.

Indirect advantages

Books and reading can slow down a restless child while helping him or her connect with characters, thus besides emotional transformation, Bibliotherapy also becomes a thought connecting procedure. Neurons in the developing child’s mind are in a state of genesis, i.e. the links are being established. If they are channelized rightly through focused a directive reading like Bibliotherapy, these bonds become stronger and we generate cognitive intelligence that is linked with emotions. Thus these children have greater emotional quotients (EQ), which in today’s existence is as important and in many ways even more important that intellectually quotient (IQ)

When Bibliotherapy helps

Bibliotherapy can be used in a wide variety of contexts. At an early age it can be used for children to help them simply express their emotions. It can help them open up and voice their opinion without fearing the consequences for the same. In addition, it serves many functions, including the following: to provide information about a particular situation or event, to provide insight to help the child identify his own thoughts feelings and emotions, to stimulate discussion so as to take the guidance of the therapist to help cope with the problem, to communicate new values and attitudes, to create awareness that others have similar problems, and importantly, to provide realistic solutions to problems.

Process of therapy

Due to the subjective nature of the therapy, there is no fixed time duration of this process. It can be done in one single session lasting 45 minutes or it can be continued over couple of sessions depending upon the nature of the problem and the child’s ability to cope with it. It can be used solely or with a combination of other therapy techniques that aid the counseling process. The professional experts are the best guides to assist in making the right choice of therapeutic books that will help children to cope with specific conflicts.

Faulty behaviors

Bibliotherapy can be used and is known to help in these conditions

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • School troubles
  • Unexpressed anger
  • Relationship troubles
  • Interpersonal disconnect

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we really need a therapist for Bibliotherapy?
Bibliotherapy falls on a continuum, from self-help books at one extreme, in which the book is the major therapeutic agent and the involvement of a therapist is minimal, to an adjunct to therapy, in which the therapy process is the major therapeutic agent of change, with the book serving as a helping tool, and the involvement of a therapist is critical.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can reading a book be therapeutic?
Written materials can uncover one’s repressed thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is assumed that while the character works through a problem, the troubled reader gets emotionally involved in the struggle and ultimately achieves insight into his or her own situation. The books however need to be selected carefully for every individual.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does everyone benefit from Bibliotherapy?
No. Poorly educated clients do not benefit much. Those with higher levels of resourcefulness do much better. People with an externalizing style of coping do worse in self-directed treatment. It is also fairly unsuitable for people with extensive interpersonal problems, emotional avoidance, and those with very severe symptoms. The therapist can decide who will benefit the most while using this strategy.