Bibliotherapy, a different way of learning

The term “bibliotherapy” usually refers to a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health and is based on the psychotherapy principles of identification, catharsis, and insight. This approach takes many forms and can be used in conjunction with different therapeutic frameworks.

Storytelling, creative writing, and reading have long been recognised for their therapeutic potential.

Developmental bibliotherapy, primarily used in educational settings, addresses typical childhood and adolescent concerns such as puberty, bodily functions, or developmental milestones. In fact, reading has been shown to be able to help people understand the issues they are experiencing, amplify the effects of other treatment, normalise experiences with mental health concerns and care, and offer hope for positive change. 

How the bibliotherapy integrates with special needs

There are different ways to read a book, especially when it comes to do this with a child. Children themselves may struggle to read alone, to understand the meaning of the words or to develop their own thoughts about what they are reading. That’s why sometimes support is essential.

A child who has already difficulties can find very difficult to go trough a book all by himself especially because he could have, for example, a lack of empathy, problems on understanding emotions and describe specific situations, a deficit in the theory of mind and problem solving.

What I offer

During my session, I can offer lots of different activities related to books. There are always targets that I follow, that could change because every child is different and has different assessment and needs, but my central idea is to make the reading fun. To achieve this goal, while I read a book, I explore the understanding of the child using activities such as arts and crafts, thinking games, drawing and writing, imitation and physical games.

Furthermore, there are factors to consider when it comes to choose the book. The first factor is the book’s readability level and whether it is appropriate for the child. For this reason, sometimes I prefer to use silent books or illustrated books with few words, working also on developing his imagination. It’s important to select books thoughtfully, carefully considering the grade/interest level, portrayal of characters, context, pictures/ illustrations, and author’s message, to ensure they are appropriate for the needs of the child.

About the themes

These are some examples of themes that can be taught during my sessions:

  • Emotions: what does it mean to feel happy, sad, angry etc., and how to recognise them;
  • Friendship: what is a friend and how can I play with him;
  • Problem solving: it’s ok to ask for help when I don’t know how to do something.

But there are lots and lots of topics, starting from the simple one such as animals, schools, family, to everyday situations and life skills. So, just pick the one that your child needs, and together we will have lots of fun, learning and playing, because fun is the key of everything!