Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses books and literature to support mental health and wellbeing. Bibliotherapy has evolved in a variety of professions and sectors and is interdisciplinary in nature. Within the various disciplines, books and literature are used with different applications depending on the field of practice.
The idea of using literature therapeutically can be traced back to ancient libraries. This introductory course is designed for professionals who work across the library sector and are interested in developing skills to start using bibliotherapy to:
- Run small group programs for community members or members of an educational institution,
- Support customer-facing staff to support their own wellbeing,
- Support student and teacher wellbeing frameworks,
- Enhance reading recommendations to support and improve community wellbeing.
Many public and school libraries provide bibliotherapy through specially developed health and wellbeing nonfiction titles as part of their collections and, in some cases, as part of a Books on Prescription scheme. Bibliotherapy through stories read aloud in a group opens up many possibilities as a creative way to nurture personal growth, promote wellbeing, and address loneliness (identified as the next public health epidemic). Now more than ever, libraries can support their diverse communities' wellbeing by developing an understanding of bibliotherapy’s therapeutic intention and the techniques used to deliver bibliotherapy.
Course learning style and outcomes
This immersive experiential course is delivered over distinct levels, with individual-level activities building on each other. Each level needs to be completed to move on to the next level. Learning outcomes are guided by experiential activities and experiences rather than didactic teaching. An introductory theoretical reading list will be provided for participants’ further development.
This course focuses on using stories read aloud to support wellbeing. The course will guide you to learn through experience and then apply the learnings to the audience you wish to focus on. The same skills and principles can be applied to individual and group participants across all ages: children, youth and adults in public libraries and primary school, high school and tertiary libraries.
Journaling and self-reflection are essential elements of the culminating learning experiences. Learners, through participating in experiential activities and reflection, gain:
- A better understanding of bibliotherapy through a felt experience
- A broader appreciation of the wellbeing possibilities of bibliotherapy through considering how bibliotherapy may be applied in their professional practice
Bibliotherapy basics Course Objective
Level One Objective: Bibliotherapy and wellbeing
Learners will develop a general understanding of bibliotherapy; that is, the practice of reading for therapeutic effect and the impact literature can have on wellbeing, more explicitly:
- Learning the broad history of bibliotherapy and its links to libraries
- Understanding the main types of bibliotherapy
- Considering wellbeing, broadly
- Encouraging collaboration with others to achieve valued wellbeing outcomes in collaborative community settings.
Level Two Objective: Fiction and nonfiction
- Assessing types of fiction and nonfiction to use in bibliotherapy
- Learning guidelines to assist with selecting fiction and nonfiction
- Using fiction and nonfiction stories to provide opportunities for people to make meaningful connections within communities.
Level Three Objective: Poetry
- Assessing types of poetry to use in bibliotherapy
- Learning guidelines to assist with selecting poetry
- Supporting the move past traditional treatments and becoming engaged in more creative therapeutic practice such as imagination and playfulness.
Level Four Objective: Curating a bibliotherapy experience
- Understanding the impact literature can have on wellbeing and exploring the way the learner wants to impact wellbeing through bibliotherapy uniquely
- Learning guidelines to assist in curating a bibliotherapy experience
- Focusing on increasing a sense of wellbeing through social participation to establish a deeper level of connection and a sense of belonging.
Right for you if...
This introductory course focuses on the library sector. It is for library professionals who work in any type or sector of library or information service and are interested in beginning and improving their understanding and skills in bibliotherapy.
Delivery and commitment
Participants will need internet access on a device to access the ALIA Moodle learning platform.
Participants will complete activities to meet course learning outcomes.
The course runs for four weeks, requiring a weekly commitment of approximately six hours. Participants need access to a selection of:
- Poetry anthologies and collections
- Short story anthologies and collections
- Fiction novels
- Nonfiction books
- Picture books.
In partnership with...
This course is designed to give you a taste of bibliotherapy, and once you get a taste of bibliotherapy, you will want more! Bibliotherapy is an ongoing journey, and Bibliotherapy Australia offers more in-depth courses for you to continue your journey, developing an understanding of bibliotherapy’s therapeutic intention and the techniques used to deliver bibliotherapy.
This course is developed and facilitated by Dr Susan McLaine, Director of Bibliotherapy Australia and a leading authority on bibliotherapy in Australia and internationally.
Susan will share the knowledge and experience she has amassed through research and practitioner roles over the past 18 years, including her past role as a community programs designer and manager in the third-most-visited library worldwide.
Bibliotherapy Australia delivers training and education courses to a variety of community-based wellbeing-focused professionals.
Registrations up to 3 weeks prior = full refund
Registrations between 1-2 weeks prior = 50% refund
Registrations cancelled 1 week prior or later = no refund
Registrations can be transferred to other individuals at no cost (in the same registration category).
Contact [email protected] for information.