Thursday 26 March 2009

Bibliotherapy: the healing power of books

When I was in my local library yesterday, I picked up a leaflet about the latest complementary therapy - bibliotherapy.

The idea behind this - that books can help one solve life's little problems - is so simple I am surprised no one has thought of it before.

The way it works is that National Health Service trusts and Primary Care trusts throughout the UK have teamed up with libraries so that doctors can prescribe books to help people overcome minor emotional and mental health problems.

The books on the bibliotherapy list cover such issues as anxiety, depression, insomnia, dieting, drinking and sexual problems. Patients take their prescription to their local library, knowing that it will be available and they can borrow it for free.

I realise you might feel like pointing out that all books in public libraries are free to borrow, so why bother going to the doctor first? The answer to that is, the doctor will be able to recommend the best book for your condition, whereas if you just go to the library and look on the shelf you might not know which book is good and which isn't. Also, libraries taking part in the schemes are making sure there are plenty of copies available of the books on the bibliotherapy list.

Apparently, nearly a quarter of all GP consultations involve a mental health or emotional issue and one in six of us has some sort of psychological problem. Although those suffering from acute psychological disorders are likely to need the help of a counsellor or other form of treatment, many of us with minor emotional problems can learn to help ourselves with the type of advice found in books.

One website on bibliotherapy states: "Many of us use bibliotherapy without realising it. Reading is a way of making sense of the world and our place within it."

I think that is very true. And I am very happy to be told "keep reading the books" rather than "keep taking the tablets".

If you want check out some of the titles offered by bibliotherapy schemes, or prefer to buy books rather than borrowing them, here are some of the titles that are available to buy through Amazon:
Overcoming Low Self-esteem: Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques
Overcoming Depression : a Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques
Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques
Overcoming Anger and Irritability
Overcoming Weight Problems
Overcoming Problem Drinking
Overcoming Sexual Problems
Overcoming Your Child's Fears and Worries


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