This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
eeling blue and stressed-out, heartbroken, or simply in need of a change? We’re tired of weekend yoga retreats and lunchtime psychoanalysis. We’re eyeing bibliotherapy that suggests you ditch the fad and dish out a book. The Kirklees Council, a public service division in England, describes bibliotherapy as “the use of reading books creatively; books, stories and poems to make people feel better about themselves and others.” The right book at the right moment can help you get through a tricky patch, or inspire a new way of thinking. Bibliotherapy is not an exact science and there is no right or wrong way to do it, and every response to a book is unique. But here’s the big picture: The method is a healing experiment that attempts to alleviate the pain.
work for me? I’m not sure. But when I picked Lucifer, Exodus (Volume 7) by Mike Carey, Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, and intuitively turned to a random page, these words sprang out. It’s a graphic novel and the panel I noticed had a young girl entering Hell for the first time; it’s dark, desolate, downright scary. But she grits her teeth and step forward. Turns out, there’s no escaping that ‘creepy’ place I’ve been avoiding in my head. But if I do step in, head on, it might not be as scary as I think it is right now. Epic success? Maybe not. But food for thought, for sure.” – RITuPARNA SoM “Being a skeptic, I only went into the bibliotherapy session out of curiosity. Instead of a book, I chose to take the lyrics of a song, ‘I’m the Highway’ by In Flames. My lack of motivation to stick to my health regime has been on my mind for a while. Mackwani was quick to notice that the real question was, ‘Why can’t I finish what I start?’ This could be true; I have been losing focus lately. The ‘grounding’ exercise was surprisingly energising. What continued was just as I expected. I read some inspiring lines, “In dark moments, I know better. Within destruction, I see clearly.” I read it and reread it to make some sense. I came out unconvinced, but slightly relaxed.” – SPARDHA MAlIK “I’ve been stuck in a rut for the past two years, especially with a relationship. I thought bibliotherapy would help me find an answer. I have numerous WWII books lining my bookshelves and I instinctively picked a favourite, The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth. During the meditation I focused on my questions and the number ‘93’ popped into my head, and I turned to that page. Mackwani asked me to focus on the first line, that spoke about giving everything one last try. The excerpt had a freaky similarity to my relationship, reassuring me that there might just be something behind this therapy. Besides, talking about this also made me feel much better.” – KAREN AlFoNSo “‘When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: The happy childhood is hardly worth your while.’ Ever since I read the opening paragraph of Frank McCourt’s bestseller Angela’s Ashes, I was hooked. I understood effortlessly, the author’s portrayal of a tumultuous childhood and the restlessness of growing up. The long hours spent at work were finally taking a toll on me and I was feeling constantly fatigued. I wanted to know if I could overcome this. After I read the excerpt, Mackwani analysed that I was perhaps carrying some emotional baggage from my past, and that was weighing me down, not work. However brief the session was, the analysis did make sense to me, and I look forward to going back again.” – AMRITA PAREKH
How does it work?
You probably already have a list of books that you’ve enjoyed and would like to share with others – that’s where you start. Treat it as a pharmacy for your mind. “Bibliotherapy is about perceiving life messages through books,” says Sonia Mackwani, a Mumbai-based clinical psychologist who conducts bibliotherapy sessions. Individually, a bibliotherapist prescribes a cultural mix of books and poems that will help you move on. In a bibliotherapy circle, each person picks a book, discusses the story and how it reflects on their life. It opens up a chance to discover and share something about yourself. The Grazia team tested Mackwani’s method that combines bibliotherapy with the power of intuition. She initiated the process with basic meditation to help connect us with our inner energies and isolate the real problem. We moved on to discussing individual concerns, and like any psychologist, she pushed the group to focus on the right issue. The therapy changed a bit after that. We opened our books, that we’d picked intuitively, to a random page and picked the line to decipher its relevance in the current context of our lives.
“Bibliotherapy as an applied form of therapy seemed a bit redundant in my life. I’ve grown up a bookworm, devouring everything in sight, with very little censorship in terms of content and taste. The last ten years, however, saw a steady decline of my reading habits. Was bibliotherapy the answer? An initial probe revealed I was too distracted, and barely connected to the moment in hand, to concentrate on anything larger than a tweet. No surprises there. I was also avoiding tackling some pending personal issues – possibly leading to an annoying habit of leaving a book read mid-way. I was in denial; I was afraid of tackling the bigger picture. Did bibliotherapy
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Photographs SYNDICATION/ SNAPPERMEDIA, Words MAMTA MODY
Bibliotherapy’s efficacy depends on a person’s ability to share with the group, and the therapist’s skill to prescribe the right books and translate the intuitively picked bit of literature. Experts suggest you keep a reading diary to pen your thoughts.