Before, we have seen these four goals:
- To improve the capacity to respond by stimulating and enriching mental images and concepts and by helping the feelings about these images to surface.
- To increase self understanding by healing individuals value their own person-hood and become more knowledgeable and more accurate about self-perceptions.
- To increase awareness of interpersonal relationships.
- To improve reality orientation (Hynes & Hynes-Berry, 1994).
Now, let’s examine number three – To increase awareness of interpersonal relationships.
Knowing ourselves among other humans is part of the experience, and part of knowing who we really are. By participating in the group dynamic that is bibiotherapy, (at least group bibliotherapy), the individuals are assessing themselves through interaction with others. There are three ways to accomplish this goal:
- Develop awareness of feelings as universal.
- Developing awareness of others.
- Develop awareness of feelings for others (Hynes & Hynes-Berry, 1994).
The first goal – Develop awareness of feelings as universal:
- Loneliness can be overwhelming when dealing with a problem, mainly because the underlying issue is that you sense no one in the world knows how you feel at that moment. A group of peers in a bibliotherapy setting not only gives the participant the feeling of togetherness in strife, but the material itself shows that they are one of a group of people who have felt that emotion. Seeing our scenarios echoed in print gives the sensation of solidarity and validation. The author is a distant advocate. The facilitator is an active stand-in for them, responding to the feelings and thoughts of the participants.
The second goal – developing awareness of others:
- The natural progression in this process is making the shift from being heard to hearing. This basic socialization skill may be hard for some. Listening to others gives them value, and it asserts their importance as a human being with emotions and memories and opinions. Sometimes, learning more about yourself means listening to what others have to say, and contemplate what you feel about it. What emotions do they elicit? In the group, everyone learns they can speak candidly, and with absolute safety. The fear of people’s reactions to their opinions is a big one, and within this setting it must be quelled.
The third goal – Developing awareness of feelings for others:
- Empathy! They have been heard. They have heard others in the group. Now, they must feel something about them, for them. This peer-led dialogue is essential for group bibliotherapy, and the individuals must acquire what it means to be empathetic to others, to feel personal responsibility to them. It is a delicious sensation when it happens, to sit across from someone and ache for them or feel happy with their personal joy. It is part of the human experience that goes beyond giving someone value, it is loving and giving. It is interaction and feeling something for someone outside of ourselves.