How to Achieve Our Goals, Part I

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Yesterday, we looked at the 4 main goals of bibliotherapy:

  1. To improve the capacity to respond by stimulating and enriching mental images and concepts and by helping the feelings about these images to surface.
  2. To increase self understanding by healing individuals value their own person-hood and become more knowledgeable and more accurate about self-perceptions.
  3. To increase awareness of interpersonal relationships.
  4. To improve reality orientation (Hynes & Hynes-Berry, 1994).

Let’s examine the first goal: To improve the capacity to respond by stimulating and enriching mental images and concepts and by helping the feelings about these images to surface.

Bibliotherapy will give our participants ammunition. By reading text that speaks to them about a situation or emotion, it allows them the gift of further knowledge and insight into their own situation. They become armed with the context that furthers their individual goals, and provides them with examples of other people in similar situations that will elicit an emotional response within themselves.

This particular goal hopes mental images and concepts:

  1. Stimulate the mind and imagination
  2. Allow an experience of the liberating quality of  beauty.
  3. Provide focus
  4. Facilitate the recognition and understanding of feelings (Hynes & Hynes-Berry, 1994).

Number 1 – Stimulates the mind and imagination.

  • Broken free of the internal pressures of their own issues, reading text that provides outside context draws them out of themselves and into another world entirely. In this outside world, they can examine their problems as if they are not their own, but also draw from personal experience. It allows them respite from dwelling on the internal and makes problem solving seem possible.

Number 2 – Allows an experience of the liberating quality of beauty.

  • Beauty is pleasure. Pleasure strikes a cord in the deepest sensual part of ourselves where we can feel a sparkling tremble of harmony with the outside world. Pleasure at its very core is a stimulant to our inner selves – it triggers the corner of a smile or the awakening of a distant pleasant memory. Beauty for the sake of beauty is comforting, and gives us power. It allows the participants to enjoy something by reading and imagining other people, places, times, or the simple joy of a well-chosen word or sentiment.

Number 3 – Provides focus.

  • If participants are interested in the topic at hand, they will focus. Focus provides a deeper level of examination, and thus, understanding, that doesn’t come from other activities. Each time they are asked to read the text, think about the text, think about how the text is connected to their inner lives, or how it connects in the grand scheme of the world around them, they are creating a greater ability to focus. Focus gives them power. Focus gives them energy to tackle all sorts of issues beyond a bibliotherapy session, and it is one of the greatest gifts (in moderation) that gifted children have. If they are allowed the time to focus on the material and how it aligns with all of the discussion created in the session, there is a good chance that they will learn from the images, scenarios, lyrical prose that is given to them.

Number 4 – Facilitates the recognition and understanding of feelings.

  • Can the situation be changed? Perhaps. Whether or not the goal is to change something or that it cannot be changed, at the very least, the attitude of the participant can be changed, allowing themselves to come at a problem with fresh eyes and a different perspective. These images and words provided by the text gives the kids a look into a scene that can elicit responses within themselves, negative and positive, and allows them to process them. The feelings and memories come up and they have to deal with them and what they mean, where do they come from, how can they be helped or changed to fit their current situation? Simply expressing how they feel can be a giant step in the right direction. Are these hampered feelings getting in the participants way? Knowing they are there and influencing how the participant lives his or her daily life is something to work on. Even negative feelings are positive in that they are expressed, and dealt with.
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