BIBLIOTHERAPY

A form of supportive psychotherapy in which the patient is given carefully selected material to read.During the era of “moral treatment” many physicians used a form of biblio- therapy in suggesting that their patients read the Bible. This practice is still advocated by pastoral counselors and chaplains in mental institutions. Usually the patient chooses his own passages to read, though sometimes the counselor makes suggestions. There is, however, another type of bibliotherapy which is occasionally used as an adjunct to individual psychotherapy. In this case the reading matter is selected by the therapist from mental health literature on the basis of the particular patient’s age, emotional problems and personality needs. And instead of merely suggesting the reading, he assigns it as a medical prescription.Bibliotherapy may be used with both young people and adults. In either case it is important to establish rapport before introducing the reading, otherwise it would probably be rejected. Books on sex education are often given to children and adolescents with sexual problems, and material on new hobbies and interests is recommended to those who are excessively preoccupied with other personal difficulties. Since children often resent assignments, it is advisable for the therapist to enlist their co-operation in choosing the reading material. With adults, the therapist must make an “educated guess” as to his patient’s reactions to the books he prescribes, and be especially careful to avoid material that will threaten the therapeutic situation. This does not necessarily mean that the content must be bland and innocuous, since it may be useful to assign reading that will provoke specific reactions such as anger or aggression.Gottschalk (1948) has enumerated the major ways in which selected reading material can advance the therapeutic process. First, it can relieve tensions resulting from misinformation, for example on sexual matters. Second, it can bring about insight into emotional dynamics, especially the use of defense mechanisms. Third, it can help the patient understand his physiological and psychological reactions to conflicts and frustrations. Fourth, it can facilitate communication between patient and therapist by giving them a common body of material to discuss. Fifth, reading about others who have similar problems will often alleviate the patient’s feeling of guilt or fear, and also bolster his morale—especially if it shows that they have overcome their difficulties. Sixth, carefully chosen biographies of admirable individuals may be used to encourage the patient to test out more acceptable patterns of behavior.Studies have shown that bibliotherapy is most effective when the patient himself asks for material to read, when he has adequate intellectual ability and good reading habits, and when his emotional disturbance is relatively mild. A number of therapists have compiled lists of books which have proved especially helpful, although the actual selection must always be made with the individual patient in mind. Here are some samples from a list recommended by English and Finch (1964): Clifford R. Adams, Preparing for Marriage; Dorothy W. Baruch, New Ways in Discipline; Carl Binger, More About Psychiatry; Oliver M. Butterfield, Sex Life in Marriage; Child Study Association of America, A Reader for Parents; Flanders Dunbar, Mind and Body; O. S. English and G. H. J. Pearson, Emotional Problems of Living; Marynia F. Famham, The Adolescent; James F. Himes, Understanding Your Child; Karen Homey, Self-Analysis; George Lawton, Aging Successfully; John Levy and Ruth Monroe, The Happy Family; Joshua L. Liebman, Peace of Mind; Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself; Margaret Mead, Male and Female; Karl A. Menninger, Love Against Hate; William C. Menninger and Munro Leaf, You and Psychiatry; Emily Mudd and A. Krich, editors, Man and Wife; Harry A. Overstreet, The Mature Mind; Margaret Ribble, The Rights of Infants; Benjamin Spock, Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care; Edward Strecker and Kenneth Appel, Discovering Ourselves; Anna W. M. Wolf, The Parents Manual.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "BIBLIOTHERAPY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/bibliotherapy/ (accessed July 17, 2019).
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