- Thank you, Rhea, for the history and info on bibliotherapy certification.
- American Libraries, Mar/Apr2011, Vol. 42 Issue 3/4, p7-7, 1/3p
- A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "A Feeling for Books" by Jennifer Burek Pierce in the November/December 2010 issue.
I am deeply concerned about the alarmist and misleading piece on bibliotherapy in Jennifer Burek Pierce's Youth Matters column "A Feeling for Books" (Nov./Dec. 2010, p. 48).
Bibliotherapy's place in librarianship is not a new issue; librarians have been debating it since its first use by a trained librarian in 1904, when E. Kathleen Jones used it with patients in a mental hospital. The field really caught on in the 1930s when it was practiced primarily with individual patients in medical hospitals; teams of librarians and doctors provided information about illnesses and outcomes in a service we now call patient education.
In 1939, ALA established its first Committee on Bibliotherapy, giving it official status as part of librarianship.
By the 1970s, librarians in prisons and mental hospitals (and in public libraries that provided outreach services to residential institutions) were also using bibliotherapy. At that rime, we talked about three types of bibliotherapy: institutional, clinical, and developmental. The last type was used primarily by librarians, teachers, and others to promote normal development and self-actualization in students and others in the community from the 1960s on.
Pierce's article did not define the type of bibliotherapy under discussion. It also neglected to mention the bibliotherapy training and certification available to librarians (and others).
In the 1980s, the ALA bibliotherapy unit worked with the National Association of Poetry Therapy to develop standards and training to practice bibliotherapy. A number of professional librarians (myself included) became certified practitioners after completing astringent process with a mental health mentor. This "license" was not mentioned in the article. Currently, the National Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy awards three different credentials: Certified Applied Poetry Facilitators, Certified Poetry/biblio Therapists, and Registered Poetry/biblio Therapists.~~~~~~~~
By Rhea Joyce Rubin, Oakland, California