Discover Bibliotherapy’s Amazing Power to Change Your Life
When people think of getting a prescription they usually picture a piece of paper with messy handwriting scrawled across the center and an eventual trip to the pharmacy.
It turns out you can actually receive a reading prescription, full of novels to read, and use it to change your life and boost your health.
The prescription is part of an exciting treatment plan known as bibliotherapy.
If you’ve never heard of bibliotherapy, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It turns out the word was first used in an article in the Atlantic titled “The Literary Critic.” The author of the article indicated bibliotherapy was a “new science” to be unpacked. The original article alluded to the appeal of bibliotherapy because it could be used for healing.
Since then, it hasn’t received a serious amount of attention which is unfortunate because it really does look to be an incredible treatment option for mental/physical health.
Fortunately, more than 100 years after it was first coined as a term, two prominent therapists are proving how important bibliotherapy really is.
Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin are UK based bibliotherapists who actually help people change the course of their lives via prescriptive reading plans.
Scientific research has already shown us reading has a host of amazing benefits for total health.
Studies have shown us reading can:
- Help people sleep better
- Help reduce stress
- Help prevent the formation of Age related memory loss
- Ease the symptoms of low mood
What Elderkin and Berthoud have been able to prove is, by giving people in the midst of trying and difficult circumstances particular literary works, they can actually help the person feel better.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Elderkin said:
“One of the main side effects of reading literature is that it can, in incredible and fundamental ways, change how you see the world,” Elderkin told The Huffington Post. “We started to realize that [many people have] experienced that at some point or another in their lives — when reading a novel opened up the world for them in a new way.
Both women have begun to understand introducing literature that’s relevant and meaningful to their patients really can affect their lives positively.
When so much of your physical health is tied to your mental condition, this really is a cause to rejoice.
To help their patient’s achieve life change they make the process as simple as possible.
All patients fill out an intake form where they’re asked about their previous reading habits. From there, the therapists ask them about their personal life, what struggles or issues they might be working around and then ask them what goals they have with their therapy session.
Once this has been determined, they give their patients a literal “prescription” full of meaningful works of literature they know can help to shift the patient’s perspective..and consequently help alter health for the better too.
Elderkin commented on who comes in their office and how they’re able to help.
We get people who are having situations in their lives that they want help working through: changing jobs or careers, going on a gap year, having children, going through a divorce, having an affair or having some kind of issue that needs a lot of contemplation,” said Berthoud. “We then recommend six to eight books that will help them think it through really well with both sides of the argument.”
From there, the patients are free to continue therapy with the therapists or strike out on their own.
Many never return, the introduction of a few books is enough to get them out of their funk.
Others develop long-term prescriptions and check back often for adjustments.
If you’re interested in a book therapy plan Berthoud says to ask yourself this.
“Have I read:”
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- If This Is A Man by Primo Levi
- Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
If not then make your way down to the bookstore and get to work.
The benefits from the bibliotherapy will be revealed soon enough!