Knowing Latin and Greek roots helps not only those planning to study medicine, but also people like me who like to create new words. While I did not coin the term bibliotherapy, I am a big fan of the term and the practice. For those out of the loop, "biblio" means book and in this self-help crazed society everyone should all know what therapy means.
In all seriousness, bibliotherapy can be beneficial to many groups of people. This article will explore how bibliotherapy can be implemented among three different age groups.
Most school districts devote a large part of their budget toward reaching at-risk students. This is done through prevention, but most of the attention is reactionary with reform and punishment. While bibliotherapy should not be the sole prevention method, some simple steps can be taken to implement a bibliotherapeutic environment (how's that for word creation?). The first simple step is the creation of a bibliography of books. Self-help books are not often found in junior high and high school libraries; however, there is not a shortage of fiction related to the issues that teens face: drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, parental problems, death, healthy eating, abuse, etc. The library media specialist can be in charge of creating this document or a group of avid student readers can take on the task for extra credit or community service hours. The bibliography should be easily accessible and visible to those students who visit the library.
Another simple step would be to start a book club. Students can read, study and discuss books from the bibliography in small groups, complete independent activities and use the books to discuss issues with their school counselor or outside counselor. This is a great option for schools that have after-school programs. It is also practical not only for junior high and high schools, but also elementary schools where small group interaction is more feasible.
In the Workplace
With all the disgruntled workers out there, bibliotherapy may be beneficial for employers wanting to create a more inviting, therapeutic work environment. Happy workers are more productive workers and most employers will see a direct increase in productivity because of this.
Bibliotherapy can be used when employees are facing difficult challenges at work, preparing for a presentation, dealing with coworker issues, and struggling to balance their personal and professional lives. Just as the bibliography in K-12 schools is visible and easily accessible, a work place bibliography needs to be the same.
I struggled to find an appropriate label for this section. I wanted something that would encompass all those undergoing drastic life changes due to age. As the elderly exit the workplace, reduce their responsibilities and adjust to this new stage in their lives, bibliotherapy provides a nonintrusive form of therapy for this population. In senior centers and nursing homes, more structured activities such as small group discussions will help the elderly make connections to the literature.
The Future of Bibliotherapy
What benefits beside psychological are realized with bibliotherapy? Tons, but one major benefit is a more literate society. While reading continues to be an area of weakness for students and adults alike, allowing people to read books that resonated with the issues in their lives will nurture a love of reading in most individuals. In the world of Reality Television, books have taken a backseat. Bibliotherapy could bring the world of literature to the driver's seat, or at least the front passenger seat!
As our society becomes more technologically savvy, bibliotherapy may evolve into mediatherapy. Those who utilize this type of therapy may not only read and discuss which is somewhat passive, but they may begin to express and create. This takes therapy to another level and allows for new ways of learning to take place. PowerPoint, MovieMaker, Glogster and other media-creation software and sites will be the tools of this form of therapy.
The world of therapy is expanding and growing. It is now possible to provide small-scale therapy in environments of convenience for the consumer. In addition, consumers may be able to express and create within their own environments.