Imagine you are walking the windy path through a meadow. You hear the calm sounds of birds and feel the light breeze. Then you hear the bell ring in school and the teacher says to pack up for your next class. You wait for what feels like forever, till the next time you can read your book. The thought calms you from the stress of school. Many people have amazing adventures wandering through the halls of Hogwarts, or throughthe wardrobe in Narnia. Books can provoke emotion on many levels, but did you know they can actually be used to treat mental disorders? This isn’t just for people who need a quick lightening of the mood, but can actually help people with problems measuring as severe as depression and anxiety. Bibliotherapy, or therapeutic storytelling, can do just that. Some people don’t have the access to therapists for $50-$100 every hour, but suffer from mental disorders that need treatment. How can they be expected to go about everyday life like everything is normal? It was through this question that bibliotherapy was born.
Using literature as a form of healing is not a new idea. It actually dates back to Ancient Greece, where libraries were seen as sacred places. Then, in the early nineteenth century, Benjamin Rush and Minson Galt II began to use books as a technique for rehabilitating people with mental health issues. Later, bibliotherapy was used in World Wars I and II to help soldiers who had recently returned from battle overcome their emotional trauma. In 1941, Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary was published, and it was the first time bibliotherapy that was recognized as a legitimate way to treat mental illnesses. As time went on, the use of this treatment expanded, largely because of Carolyn Shrodes’s theory. She told people about the great influence characters from books often have on people, especially those that they identify with. Now, bibliotherapy is used by professionals, librarians, and parents.
According to GoodTherapy.org, bibliotherapy is just “a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health,” but, it is actually much more than that. This treatment is classified into two categories: therapeutic and developmental. Therapeutic bibliotherapy is what we’ve been discussing so far, which is for mental health settings. It also helps enhance learning abilities and brain skills. Developmental bibliotherapy is used in educational settings. Using this form of treatment has become as popular as it is because of its adaptability. It can help people, regardless of the severity of their mental health issues.
There are many different ways bibliotherapy can be used. Prescriptive bibliotherapy is using workbooks and specific reading materials, and can be used with or without a therapist’s assistance. Another form of bibliotherapy is creative bibliotherapy. This uses imaginative literature, such as novels, plays, and poetry for well-being. These are just two of the many categories. Any form of bibliotherapy can be useful while treating depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and communication issues.