Have you heard of bibliotherapy? It’s thought to be the art of healing through books and reading (and more recently, incorporates online reading material, too). And though it might seem like just a fancy word for a trip down the self-help aisle of the bookshop, it’s actually been around for quite a while – since at least the 1930s – and was apparently used following WWII to help soldiers recuperate. More recently, bibliotherapy has often been claimed and redefined by the briefer and more directive therapies, including CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), and has had things like ‘homework exercises’ woven through it. Or it’s seen as something you can sort of ‘apply’ to children. But its original intent was a bit more complex than that. For bibliotherapy also incorporates your relationship to the content of what you’re reading – be it poetry, philosophy, whatever gets you going. So it’s not just about the ‘7 steps to happiness’ stuff. And it also connects you in relationship to the other people you may read about, or even to the authors themselves and the way they capture ideas and aspects of life in literature. So it can lift you out of isolation. It invites you to be enriched and joined to others by the whole dynamic experience. And maybe there’s yet another way of looking at it… For what if you were the book?
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