Developmental Bibliotherapy can improve the Mental Health of Young Adults – Like a Wellbeing Vitamin.
Young Adult literature which portrays mental illness realistically, with positive outcomes, and which introduces readers to the unreliable or fallible narrator and encourages them to see the world through different eyes.
What is Bibliotherapy?
Bibliotherapy is simply the practice of using books or, more broadly, stories to promote wellbeing or as part of the healing process.
Bibliotherapy is a new word for an old practice. The term itself was first coined by Samuel Crothers in 1916 working with soldiers returning from the First World War.
But it’s history as a practice goes way back to the time when humans first harnessed fire to extend their functional hours beyond sunset – to the time when, around the campfire, they would gaze at the stars and the weather and create stories to explain and delight.
- In 2020, Bibliotherapy can take many forms, from Talking to
Booksellers, Librarians, Counsellors, Friends, Family and Self help, to reading with and for others.
- Bibliotherapy embraces Fiction, non-fiction or poetry.
- Bibliotherapy is suitable for all ages – from helping a preschooler worried about starting starting school, to helping in the rehabilitation of offenders in prison, or helping someone come to terms with retirement.
- Bibliotherapy can be part of a structured course, or can happen during a casual conversation, or can take place while sitting reading under a tree.
Bibliotherapy can help to Foster Resilience, Change Perspective, Validate Experiences, Confront Anxiety and make us feel normal in a chaotic and uncertain world.
“Come, take choice of all my library, and so beguile thy sorrow” says TITUS ANDRONICUS in Shakespeare’s play. Circa 1590
But Bibliotherapy is not a panacea
Bibliotherapy, in the treatment of Mental Health Issues, is most effective when used with other treatments. In fact it can enhance the effectiveness of other treatments.
The research and comments on this web site relate to Developmental Bibliotherapy.
Developmental Bibliotherapy is:
Developmental bibliotherapy aims to prepare and guide young people through the issues they, or people close to them, might encounter during the normal course of adolescence, providing them with knowledge, language and skills to address these issues as early as possible, mitigating the disruption to their daily life as much as possible.
In Australia, one in seven young people will experience a mental health issue in any given year, and 25% of Australian adults who live with a mental health issue will have first encountered that issue during adolescence.
Developmental Bibliotherapy can act as a preventative Strategy – mitigating the disruption caused by mental illness by addressing stigmas and stereotypes, replacing fears and misinformation with factual information, strategies and language, aimed at encouraging early intervention.
What does Developmental Bibliotherapy look like?
Many School Librarians will recognise the basic elements of Developmental Bibliotherapy…
- Guided Reading of programs for Young Adults
- Conducted by Trusted Adults such as Teacher Librarians & Classroom Teachers
- Informally during class time or library visits
- Using Young Adult Fiction written by trusted and respected authors
Designed to help teens navigate adolescence by
- Providing authentic role models
- Who can Give Insight & Guidance without preaching
- As well as Information & Understanding in simple terms
The Activities and Printables page has Ideas, Activities and Lesson Plans for Implementing Developmental Bibliotherapy,
Developmental Bibliotherapy improves mental health outcomes for Young People by
- Encouraging a Growth Mindset that embraces Wellbeing as a worthwhile and achievable goal.
- Increasing the Awareness of Developing Mental Health Issues and so Increasing Likelihood of Earlier Intervention
- Cultivating Core Confidence by helping to build Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism
- Reframing Eco-Anxiety to shift teens from Maladaptive (Flight and Freeze) responses to the Adaptive (Fight) response to Ecological Grief.
- Confronting Fears, Removing Feelings of Isolation & Validating Experiences