As the community copes with the stresses of the global pandemic, Brampton Library has invited its customers to try bibliotherapy, mental health support that involves reading and journaling to help participants work through their own struggles.
“Many readers might already engage in bibliotherapy without realizing it,” says Jen Sloane, the branch librarian at Brampton Library’s South West Branch and its bibliotherapy project lead. “When you read a book and reflect on the experiences, thoughts and emotions that you share with the characters, you start to empathize and become open to potential solutions. That’s the heart of bibliotherapy: using books as a lens to look at our own problems and begin the healing process,” Sloane adds.
Bibliotherapy is a useful tool for all ages. Reported benefits include increased positive feelings that promote problem-solving, heightened compassion and enhanced self-awareness.* These effects are particularly beneficial for children because they can have difficulty identifying and expressing emotions.** Bibliotherapy normalizes mental health issues and is, ultimately, a great relaxation technique that provides a distraction from worries.
After selecting a title from Brampton Library’s bibliotherapy collection, readers are encouraged to keep a journal handy and identify moments to reflect on related experiences as they progress through the book. For more bibliotherapy tips and information, read this recent blog post from Brampton Library’s website.
* Two-year follow-up of bibliotherapy and individual cognitive therapy for depressed older adults, Mark Floyd, Noelle Rohen, Jodie A M Shackelford, Karen L Hubbard, Marsha B Parnell, Forrest Scogin, Adriana Coates, 2006
**Healing With Books: A Literature Review of Bibliotherapy Used With Children and Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma, Dawn De Vries, Zoe Brennan, Melissa Lankin, Rachel Morse, Brandi Rix, Teresa Beck, 2017