Bibliotherapy, or the use of books to assist individuals with solving issues they are facing, can be an independent and empowering way for a reader to learn more about a challenge, a relationship, or a specific concern and how best to respond to it. Although it would seem that non-fiction titles would best promote people’s interest in self-help, research suggests that works of fiction tend to offer the most therapeutic benefits to readers.
Above all else, reading fiction enhances an individual’s ability to feel empathy. Riding the wave of emotions experienced by a character offers us the chance to engage in catharsis, reflection, hope, and even vicarious problem-solving. Reading about a character’s struggles, challenges, and learning opportunities can make it easier for us to feel that we are not alone in ours. It can also help us to consider an issue that we may not be ready to face in our own life, as looking at it through the lens of another puts a safe distance between us and the strong emotions that may feel too threatening to face directly.
Bibliotherapy reporter Ceridwen Dovey emphasizes that regular fiction readers enjoy better sleep, lower levels of stress, higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression. Now, combine this with the health benefits offered by social interaction: increased feelings of well-being, decreased feelings of depression, a higher sense of satisfaction with life, and greater resiliency in the face of stress.
READING + SOCIALIZING=BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
then consider the exponential effects a book club can offer. Looking at and learning from a character’s trials, emotions, successes and challenges can give us a new perspective, perhaps one we had not thought of ourselves. It can give us validation about a choice we might be considering in our own life. Doing these things in the context of a small, face-to-face setting can further allow us to benefit from other participant’s perspectives, insights, and support. Hearing about how others react and relate to a theme or a character can aid the process of normalizing and humanizing struggle, and can work to destigmatize perceptions, particularly those surrounding mental health.
For information about book discussions through the Monroe County library system, check out: https://libraryweb.org/events/events-classes/ .
For information about free and low-cost book events at Writers and Books this winter, visit: https://wab.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/WAB_Newsletter-2020-1-Winter.pdf .
If you are interested in a book club for tween girls (grades 4-6), consider:
TWeen Girls’ BOOK CLUB Selection: Guts by Raina TelgeMeier
GirLS IN grades 4-6! Come together to diSCUSS Guts, a graphic Novel about coping With anxiety. We’ll talk about
the book, Learn relaxation Strategies, and create expressive arts projects to Help With eXPLOTINS Worries.
BOOK CLUL WILL Meet For 4 Fridays (2/7, 2/14, 2/28, 3/6) From 4-5 PM at
QL Therapy and WELLNESS 1160F Pittsford-Victor Road in Pittsford
cost is $100 For all 4 SeSSIONS
Contact Tracy Nemecek, MA, LMHC For More information: