Bibliotherapy: A Technique of Healing Depression and AnxietyVaibhav K
Blog by Dr. Namdev K. Suryawanshi, Assistant Professor, MGM Institute of Indian and Foreign Languages.
“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry & find meaning in Life.”
According to a survey conducted by National Survey, Cigna in 2018, loneliness and depression levels have reached an all-time high in 21st century. Nearly 40% adults of U.S. reported that they sometimes or always feel alone or depressed in this world of modern gadgets. Some participants also reported that they sometimes or mostly feel that their relationships are not meaningful and they feel isolated and depressed. The condition in Indian metropolitan cities is not that much different than this. Latest data released by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) has revealed that more than 1.39 Lakh Indian died by suicide in the year 2019 and most shocking thing of that is 67% of which young adults who were going through depression and loneliness knowingly or unknowingly.
People are dying because they are not finding anyone to talk with them or help them. We know it is too hard to live life without friends and near ones. We even know that good books can take the place of friends and guide us for a meaningful and happy life. We cannot feel alone and depressed in the company of good books. Books written by famous authors and experienced people help us to become a better human being and teach us how to survive in society in best possible way. Books are our best friends because they inspire us to do great things in life and overcome our failures.
Bibliotherapy is all about personal issues, anxiety, depression, fear of isolation or alienation and grief. Bibliotherapy aims to bridge this gap by using literature to help you improve your life by providing information, support, and guidance in the form of reading activities via books, poems and stories. Bibliotherapy allows you to gain insight into the personal challenges you’re dealing with and helps you develop strategies to address the most concerning issues. It can also help promote problem solving, understanding, and self-awareness. Bibliotherapy has three recognized stages: (1) identification, (2) catharsis, and (3) insight. Identification is when a reader associates themselves with the character or situation in the literary work. Catharsis is when the reader shares many of the same thoughts and feelings of the characters in the literary work, and insight is when the reader realizes that they relate to the character or situation and learn to deal more effectively with their own personal issues.
Literary pieces allow teachers to identify for their class, or an individual student, a particular issue which they are dealing with directly or indirectly. In a class with a special needs student, for example, books featuring a character with the same needs will help students experience living with a chronic condition; through a guided discussion, they will able to verbalize their thoughts and concerns. This exercise will offer insight into the issue of how to help their classmate effectively. Bibliotherapy “does not prescribe meanings, nor is it a form of direct teaching; it is more an invitation and permission giving to children to unveil wisdom and insight that might otherwise be squelched.” In the early nineteenth century doctors were prescribing books for guidance and respite from suffering. Soldiers who were involved in World War One were reading to manage post-war trauma. There are steps that make Bibliotherapy a more effective solution for dealing with the issues that a student may be facing, including developing support, trust, and confidence with the student that is suffering from an issue, identifying other school personnel that could aid in implementing the therapy, seeking support from the student’s parents or guardians, defining the issue that the student is facing and why the teacher wants to help solve it, creating goals that may help the student overcome the issue, researching books that may help with the specific problem, introducing the book to all the people that will be involved, incorporating reading activities, and evaluating the effects and successes that the book may have had on the student.
Research suggests Bibliotherapy may offer significant benefit in the treatment of mental health issues, and its popularity among mental health professionals further implies positive results. Many therapists believe the inclusion of books in treatment increases participation in therapy and can decrease recovery time, providing more opportunity for insight and behavioural change while also allowing people to take more responsibility in their therapy work. Research on the efficacy of the method has shown it to be a helpful part of the treatment process for those experiencing depression, anxiety and isolation.