Friday, July 01, 2016

Liz Brewster and the Reading Remedy (excerpt)

The Reading Remedy: Bibliotherapy in Practice

Article excerpt

Bibliotherapy is an umbrella term for related ideas for using books to help people with mental and physical health problems. The beginnings of bibliotherapeutic work are examined, and developments involving public libraries in the UK reviewed. It is concluded that the infrastructure of bibliotherapy schemes is already present in the day to day operation of a public library service, and that most depressed people may benefit from bibliotherapeutic interaction. From a 2007 research project three subsections of bibliotherapeutic practice emerged. These are self help bibliotherapy, creative bibliotherapy and informal bibliotherapy.
This is the second of three articles published in Aplis. It is published with the permission of the editor of the 'Public library journal' in which it first appeared. The first article was 'Medicine for the soul: bibliotherapy' Aplis 21(3) September 2008 pp 115-119.
Bibliotherapy is a diverse concept, but one relevant to the aims and objectives of librarianship in the 21st century. The basic premise of bibliotherapeutic work is to provide health information and support using books. At the moment the focus of this endeavour is to supply this information for people with mental health difficulties like depression and anxiety. But it can be expanded to include any medical condition, from obesity to diabetes, that may benefit from monitored self care. Using prescribed self help books to help people with illnesses such as depression is supported within the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on the subject. However there has so far been limited recent research into the practical application of using books to help people.
Bibliotheraputic work also includes working more closely with people and fiction books to impact on people's lives and help them find both pleasure in reading, and release from mental illness. This can include working in groups and on a one to one basis with people, helping them to rediscover--or to discover for the first time--a love of literature. This aspect of bibliotherapeutic work can be viewed as a service that libraries provide anyway--their reader development work and engaging people with fiction and poetry to provide enjoyment, makes, from anecdotal evidence, a contribution to people's mental health and well being.
Libraries are in a unique position to provide input to schemes to provide free access to self help books on the recommendation of the medical profession. A number of UK public library services have set up schemes under the banner of Books on Prescription to enable library users to borrow books, but as yet there is not a national scheme in England or Scotland within which librarians can work. Books on Prescription has become national throughout Wales, having begun in Cardiff in 2003. It allows libraries to contribute to the wide remit of increasing the wellbeing of the community as a whole. The UK's Museums Libraries and Archives refers to the importance of the involvement of the library, stating that
   health is more than the absence of illness. The 
   ability to learn, to be creative, to develop 
   personally and grow life skills are part of mental 
   wellbeing and help sustain it. (1) 
The recommendations outlined in this article emerged from a research project carried out between January and September 2007. From the project, three subsections of bibliotherapeutic practice emerged
* self help bibliotherapy--the prescription of nonfiction, advisory books about mental health conditions like depression
* creative bibliotherapy--the use of fiction, poetry, biographical writing and creative writing to improve mental health and well being
* informal bibliotherapy--a focus on creative bibliotherapy techniques in an unstructured manner, including the use of reading groups, recommendations from staff and displays in the library. …

The Future of Readers' Advisory

At the dawn of health care reform in the US, the public can see the library not only as a source of information but also as a source for healing.  Liz Brewster, in her infinite knowledge of bibliotherapy, reminds us that “mental health is a continuum” (2009, 13) and recommends that libraries consider training staff on mental health issues “to help them provide a better service to all users and to help create a wider understanding of the potential for bibliotherapy schemes…The simple presence of the schemes in a location accessible to all helps to reduce the stigma attached to mental health problems” (Brewster 2008, 174).  Most of the ideas suggested were practices that are already in place in various reference and readers’ advisory services; however, there were two suggestions that stood out:
  1. better training for librarians running reading groups to enable them to encourage participants to express their feelings about literature.
  2. challenging the stigma in society about mental health problems by creating reader development displays containing books about mental health (Brewster 2009, 16).
It is a common readers’ advisory practice to garner a sense of the patron’s wellbeing when suggesting a title for pleasure reading.  I am proposing that we take it a step further.

In the 1980s, during the “readers’ advisory renaissance,” Joyce Saricks and Nancy Brown published the first edition of Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library, where they “developed and promulgated the concept of using appeal to make connections between authors and titles.  The idea of appeal has been at the center of RA practice ever since and continues to be applied and shaped in new ways” (Trott 2008, 132).  However, David Beard and Kate Vo Thi-Beard point out that “the emphasis on the description of the book is a weakness in the current model of readers advisory” (Trott 2008, 332).  Genre lines are blurring, rendering its use as a “defining tool in the practice” obsolete and unreliable (Trott 2008, 133).  Everything can be labeled and “genrefied” as authors are experimenting more with pushing genre boundaries, especially with using appeal factors as sub-genres and including more crossover or “genreblending” within their stories.  Hannah Jo Parker, author of the Mainstream Fiction chapter in Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests, 7th ed., finds that “fiction readers are not usually looking for a book on a specific subject or with particular plot details.  Instead, readers are more interested in the feeling that a book invokes and the overall quality of the reading experience” (Parker 2013, 391).   In addition to appeal factors and genre labels, I am proposing that how a book makes you feel be a major consideration when selecting a title for a patron.

In her article, "Bringing Reader's Advisory into the Blended Reference Scenario," Loriene Roy suggests paying further attention to readers and their intent for reading helps when offering both read-alikes and “read-abouts, or titles that would promote deeper reading on subject areas introduced in the title” (Roy 2010, 356-357).  Editor of Readers’ Advisory, Barry Trott writes “In addition to the concerns of story, setting, mood, language, and character, audiobook advisory requires a knowledge and sensitivity to things such as the narrative voice, reading style, where the auditor plans to listen to the recording, and what sort of media format the auditor needs and desires” (Trott 2008, 133).  So instead of focusing primarily on what people read, we should also focus on why they read and how they read.  Furthermore, in their article, “Rethinking the Book: New Theories for Readers’ Advisory,” David Beard and Kate Vo Thi-Beard advise that when dealing with an extended and more in-depth reference interview, “we should be prepared to connect their reading to other literate and social activities” (Trott 2008, 335).  By pushing the boundaries of traditional reference and readers’ advisory services, we can connect stories with readers on a deeper level.

With budgets being slashed across the board, partnering with other organizations in the community to provide resources and services seems like an obvious solution for libraries to remain relevant in the eyes of its service population.  I firmly believe that by understanding the basics and even implementing some of the techniques, that incorporating aspects of bibliotherapy into library services, especially in regards to readers’ advisory, will only add value to the library, remind people of the importance of books, and re-inspire the never-ending joy of reading.

Ronna Bloom and her mission “Rx for Poetry”

On Prescribing Poems for the Sick,
the Dying, the Grief Stricken

Ronna Bloom Explores the Power of Poetry in a Hospital Waiting Room

Last month I spent the day in the waiting room. This could be the rallying cry of millions of citizens all over the world. Actually, I spent the day in three waiting rooms of the Joint Department of Medical Imaging (JDMI) in three hospitals across Toronto prescribing poems, offering them to those who were truly waiting.I’ve been offering writing workshops and poems quietly to staff at Mount Sinai Hospital as Poet in Residence since 2012. The program was established through a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, in conjunction with the Health, Arts and Humanities Program at the University of Toronto, and trucks along through grants from donors. As the focus has mostly been staff, I’d only recently begun to get the poems directly to patients and caregivers.

The poetry dispensary doesn’t fit into any framework for “ordinary relationships.” It is not therapy, though I’m a psychotherapist. It’s not friendship or teaching. Is healing happening? Art? At once, playful and deeply serious, it’s a performance and exchange. I rely on people’s willingness to share their stories. I rely on the poem to reflect what might not be articulated any other way. Though its efficacy is uncharted, I rely on it the way you rely on art to do something when you need something nothing else can do. But the point is less about liking and more about finding the poem that catches the spark of their experience, with empathy. They are not actually meant to be ‘prescriptive’; they are like little flags of possibility.

Bergen neuroscience and how the mind makes meaning
 Benjamin K. Bergen is the author of Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning (Basic Books, 2012).
 The traditional view is that our capacity for language is housed in certain centers in the brain — specialized regions like “Broca’s area” and “Wernicke’s area” that are purportedly in charge of grammar or meaning, respectively. But the new science tells us that mind makes meaning using a much broader swath of the brain — including parts that are typically used for seeing and for moving.

Heightened neurological connectivity after reading
After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days, report researchers.

Their findings, that reading a novel may cause changes in resting-state connectivity of the brain that persist, appear in the journal Brain Connectivity.
“Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” says neuroscientist Gregory Berns, lead author of the study and the director of Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy. “We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.”

Neurobiological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has begun to identify brain networks associated with reading stories. Most previous studies have focused on the cognitive processes involved in short stories, while subjects are actually reading them as they are in the fMRI scanner.
This study focused on the lingering neural effects of reading a narrative.

The results showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, on the mornings following the reading assignments.
“Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” Berns says. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”

Heightened connectivity was also seen in the central sulcus of the brain, the primary sensory motor region of the brain. Neurons of this region have been associated with making representations of sensation for the body, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition. Just thinking about running, for instance, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns says. “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.
“It remains an open question how long these neural changes might last,” Berns says. “But the fact that we’re detecting them over a few days for a randomly assigned novel suggests that your favorite novels could certainly have a bigger and longer-lasting effect on the biology of your brain.”

Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure,%20Oatley,%20&%20Moldoveanu.pdf

OOpening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to
 iterature on the Need for Closure
Maja Djikic, Keith Oatley, and Mihnea C. Moldoveanu
University of Toronto
The need for cognitive closure has been found to be associated with a variety of
suboptimal information processing strategies, leading to decreased creativity and ration-
ality. This experiment tested the hypothesis that exposure to fictional short stories, as
compared with exposure to nonfictional essays, will reduce need for cognitive closure.
One hundred participants were assigned to read either an essay or a short story (out of
a set of 8 essays and 8 short stories matched for length, reading difficulty, and interest).
After reading, their need for cognitive closure was assessed. As hypothesized, when com-
pared to participants in the essay condition, participants in the short story condition
experienced a significant decrease in self-reported need for cognitive closure. The effect
was particularly strong for participants who were habitual readers (of either fiction or
non-fiction). These findings suggest that reading fictional literature could lead to better
procedures of processing information generally, including those of creativity.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The cognitive science of fiction an Opinion by Keith Oatley (abstract)

Fiction might be dismissed as observations that lack reliability and validity, but this would be a misunderstanding. Works of fiction are simulations that run on minds. They were the first kinds of simulation. All art has a metaphorical quality: a painting can be both pigments on canvas and a person. In literary art, this quality extends to readers who can be both themselves and, by empathetic processes within a simulation, also literary characters. On the basis of this hypothesis, it was found that the more fiction people read the better were their skills of empathy and theory‐of‐mind; the inference from several studies is that reading fiction improves social skills. In functional magnetic resonance imaging meta‐analyses, brain areas concerned with understanding narrative stories were found to overlap with those concerned with theory‐of‐mind. In an orthogonal effect, reading artistic literature was found to enable people to change their personality by small increments, not by a writer's persuasion, but in their own way. This effect was due to artistic merit of a text, irrespective of whether it was fiction or non‐fiction. An empirically based conception of literary art might be carefully constructed verbal material that enables self‐directed personal change. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:425–430. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1185 (abstract)

The Reader Online UK (blog)

Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader Organisation, UK

In Australia successful ibliotherapy programs for Dementia

Free online streaming public domain audio books from Lit2go
Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages. Many of the passages also have a related reading strategy identified. Each reading passage can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed for use as a read-along or as supplemental reading material for your classroom.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

bibliotherapy? yes and no

"Therapy by the book is apparently not going to wait for definitive confirmatory data." Richard J. Riordan, Dept Counseling & Psychological Serv, Georgia State Univ

Review of the Literature (abstract, 1987)

Bibliotherapy: A Review and Analysis of the Literature

  1. Ronald S. Lenkowsky, EdD
    1. Hunter College

Bibliotherapy, the use of reading to produce affective change and to promote personality growth and development, is examined through a comprehensive analysis of the literature. A conceptual framework with which to review the available data is suggested. This framework looks at bibliotherapy in four ways: as self-actualization therapy, a strategy for attitudinal change, a method for self-concept improvement, and an instructional/didactic tool.

Bibliotherapy Flashcards
Fun! Review the background of bibliotherapy on flashcards.

Pardeck's Using Books in Clinical Social Work Practice,++1987&source=bl&ots=d3Ntz9qLX0&sig=0BsmcBi0wz8fBrmDqPGWrzbmFQA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi67dTOrsTNAhVU9GMKHaBaAhkQ6AEIQzAI#v=onepage&q=bibliotherapy%20Klingman%2C%20%201987&f=false

Bibliotherapy Intervention for Students
 Elaine Harper, 2010

Cohen's Experience of Therapeutic Reading
This article describes a qualitative study of therapeutic reading intended to provide understanding of bibliotherapy. Using the Colaizzi method, interviews with eight participants were analyzed and the structure of the experience of therapeutic reading identified. The structure of the experience of therapeutic reading was recognition of self evolving into ways of feeling and ways of knowing. A discussion of the implications of results is presented.

Cohen's Research and practice of bibliotherapy (abstract)

Hynes and Hynes-Barry differentiated between "interactive" and "reading" bibliotherapy with poetry therapy a specialized form of interactive.
Two main approaches Shrodes (1950) is psychotherapeutic and more recently (Cohen, 1989) cognitive behavioural or self-help.

Cento poetry: recycled art and intertextuality

Friday, June 24, 2016

poetry repression and depression

"I was also taking psychiatric medication, but in medicine I saw the science of pain, whereas in poetry I saw pain’s art."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Track your reading for one month

Find your reading style:

genial, mindless, voyeuristic
informational, news, how-to
deep, spiritual (religion, philosophy, poetry)
author focused, nostalgic
self-help, consciousness-raising
wellness, life-sustaining
inspirational (biographical, memoir)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Creative Arts can be applied to bibliotherapy 

Because I believe that bibliotherapy, at its best, requires a process exercise, here are a few art therapy examples that only need a book attached. There are so many ways to approach this creatively. The advantage to not just writing about a book, or even talking about a book, centers around getting out of the left brain and letting the right brain work with the story. 

Spontaneous Collage

  • Self Nurture
    Spontaneous Collage is a form of daily play. Easy. Picking a few images that strike you as fascinating in some way and gluing them in your journal. Spontaneous imagery reveals you like a dream and lets you know what your unconscious mind is thinking and feeling.

Stream of Consciousness Drawings

  • Celebration
    Free form doodling can become an eloquent form of expressive art that just gets more and more refined over time. Doodling allows the subconscious mind to express itself. Much about the inner life can be revealed though doodling.

Intuitive Drawing

  • Letting Go
    Intuitive drawing is an immediate way to tap into the mystery of your life below the everyday happenings. It is helpful to take time to quiet your mind and go into your body before you draw. Allow your pen to move without giving it much thought. Ask questions. Listen for messages. They are always surprising and just below your conscious thought.

Collage Journal

  • Fortress
    Collage journaling is vivid and magical. It never takes long to gather a pile of images and words. Journals are a place to gather insights and inner directions on what to do next. Collage journal pages playfully sneak under your limited and conditioned ways of seeing my life and lead you to a higher vision for yourself.

Self-Discovery Cards

  • Collage for Self-Discovery
    Each Self-Discovery card is an exploration into what you do not clearly see about yourself. Every collage card reveals an aspect of your soul and psyche. By visually seeing the masks that you wear and the patterns of thinking and feeling that help and hinder you, you become able to integrate all the fragmented aspects of yourself so that you can be more effective in life.

Mini Collages

  • Truth
    These are small playful collages. 4"x6". The aim is to experiment and play and to work quickly with color, composition, shape and pattern. These are an exploration of what you might find beautiful, joyful and delightful using paint and collage. A contemplation on beauty to carry through your day.

Art Journals

  • Childhood
    Art journals are a form of devotion. They are experimental and a great place to explore new materials and techniques. An excellent way to record a creative and immediate life.

Spontaneous Painting

  • Tree
    True creativity requires great honesty if it is to be transformative. Paint what you feel, not what you think! The conscious mind has no part in this process. "Still mind. I don't know." is a mantra that you can repeat while painting. Venturing into the unknown parts of yourself, pulls forth all of those feelings that have been locked up and tranquilized. A new freedom floods in. There is energy and passion in the unexpected.

Spontaneous Pastels

  • Joy
    This is a series of mark making with pastel crayons. An innocent, intuitive exploration of color and spontaneity. A playing with crayons, much like a child, these drawings are a visual meditation which can draw you into mystery. Ask your drawings what they have to tell you and they speak back through your intuition...guiding you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

First Chapters and excerpts on Writers Write

Book Spot

Free resource center organized into "intuitive" categories.

Fantastic Fiction awards list
Some seem to only list through 2014.

Library Thing Suggester
You have to put in a title to see the benefits for using it as a read-alike reference.

RA Rethink slideshow

Good example of "bookmapping" Alice in Wonderland

NoveList RAx: Readers" Advisory Prescriptions

Are the Book doctors in! In the video in the link above, Duncan Smith (NoveList), Becky Spratford (RA for All), and Rebecca Vnuk (Booklist) talk about common RA issues and side effects, and they prescribe cures for general RA woes.

LISWiki Readers' Advisory

n addition to readers’ advisory blogs, there are many resources available to help the readers’ advisor in their mission of providing just the right book for a patron.
  • --Kent District Library's What's Next Database. Allows you to search by series name, book title or name of the author to discover the book order of a particular series.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Multnomah County Library "My Librarian" Prezi presentation

Readers' Advisory Online Trendsetter Multnomah County Library

 "One of the biggest trends in RA education has been catalyzed by experimentation with RA online, which has necessitated not only teaching new skills to readers’ advisors, but also often enlisting new staff to be trained in RA to provide the service. Many recent conference presentations—a common form of education for RA practitioners—have focused on moving RA online, especially on social media. Despite focused professional attention, this trend is still in early stages; Burke and Strothmann recently found that although librarians who have experimented with online RA receive positive feedback from patrons and improve the quality of their RA service, “libraries that offer robust online RA services remain a minority,” with only 17.6 percent of public libraries in their study’s sample having a RA page on their website. A prominent recent example is the My Librarian program, launched by the Multnomah County Library after extended research, a successful initiative to bridge the gap between online patrons and readers’ advisors. 

House writes that “My Librarian takes a big step toward humanizing the online library experience.” MCL is a system with a strong commitment to RA education, and has a full roster of internal practitioner-led education that supports the My Librarian program, according to Reader Services Librarian Alison Kastner. 
While an in-house RA 101 class is required for all Information Services staff at MCL, they also offer a full “menu” of other RA classes to their staff. As in MCL, initiatives to bring RA online are usually developed by practitioners, and all education for them is created by the library system. In addition, education around RA online cannot just address the practice of RA but also has to address the technological skills needed to move RA online, which often presents an equal barrier."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Center for Fiction in NYC 1st to offer bibliotherapy comparable to School of Life (UK) service in US

For $375 you can get a 45 minute consultation (readers advisory?) with a list of 12 recommended titles to help with life transitions "delivered to your door (Amazon?)."

Or there's the discounted approach without the books delivered  for $150:

Or, you can contact your local library and ask for a readers advisory reference librarian.

Competent Counselor Practice for Use of Bibliotherapy pdf
Dale Pehrsson and Paula McMillen, 2005

Bibliotherapist as Career Option short and sweet

Though the short article is compelling, the article for training requirements she mentions is from 1962, Library Trends, Margaret Kinney.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Pehrsson/McMillen Bibliotherapy Survey (powerpoint)

Pehrsson, D. E., & McMillen, P. (2009). A national survey of Bibliotherapy practice in professional counseling, ACA. Charlotte, NC.

Paula McMillen, Bibliotherapy Education Project, In the beginning... quotes

"When we took our project to the joint OLA/WLA conference in Portland in April 2002, we were somewhat surprised to find that what we had previously considered a good demonstration of interdepartmental collaboration in an academic setting actually drew more interest from the public librarians than academic ones. We were pleased that librarians were interested in our project, especially because libraries serve as such a great source of reading material for teachers, mental health workers and parents who are trying to help children and young adults with issues. Not surprisingly, librarians were the first partners with healthcare professionals in using books therapeutically in the early 1900’s; it’s only in the last few decades that the dominant discussion of bibliotherapy has shifted from the library and medical literature to that of mental health and education."

Draft article for OLA Quarterly, Paula McMillen, PhD, Oregon State University Libraries, June 2006

In 2016 this still continues to be the case, though there is a marked increase in the acceptance of Reader Response Theory in the way that literature is being taught today suggesting that bibliotherapy might become a more popular method in the field of Expressive Arts Therapy.

"Although we began with a focus on children’s books, our future plans include greater coverage of resources for young adults, adults and multicultural materials." 

From review of the resource in 2016, the database still seems to be primarily focused on children and young adults with inclusion of multicultural materials. LitMed still seems to be the best go-to resource that I have found to date for adult reading level fiction title recommendations.