When thinking about our goals for bibliotherapy, we need to remember:
- Goals are not programmable
- Goals are not quantifiable
- Goals are inexhaustible
- Goals are therapeutic, not diagnostic (Hynes & Hynes-Berry, 1994).
Bibliotherapy is such a huge umbrella of possibility. Advancement of the participants will be hard to measure in quantitative terms, and when attempting to achieve various goals, it is important to be fluid. Instead of hard numbers, look for patterns of improvement among students, look for new ways to revisit questions you have already addressed, because the material and discussion can always be changed to fit the new circumstances. The end result is not to “prove” that we have changed everything about how a person views a scenario, but to give them the tools to change their mind. Give them examples of how to better respond to a situation or a feeling within themselves; giving strength and confidence in the individual can move mountains that previously seemed unmovable.
When teaching my son his colors, every time I would pick up a block or toy I would talk to him about it. “Here is the red block, it’s a rectangle. Where should we put it?” I merely named the thing, and I continued to name every toy we played with until it gradually became his knowledge. I never questioned him, “What color is this block?” because it put too much pressure on him to come up with an answer. Eventually, he simply began handing me the block when I would ask for it. “Hey, Hawkins, can you hand me that blue triangle block? I want to add it to my building.” He went for it no problem. If you had watched the entire thing through the several months I started teaching him the colors, it might seem silly, or such a small thing to sit and talk to a child about the properties of a block while we played. But it payed off, and it was gentle and confidence building.
Simply attempting to reach out and make a difference, therapeutically, to students who need it will start the process. Using various resources to confirm their strengths and build upon them, giving them confidence and exposure to beauty, critical thinking, and self-analysis will take it one step further.