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A good book against children’s anxiety: what is bibliotherapy

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A good book against children’s anxiety: what is bibliotherapy

Reading is part of any school path, but it can also be something more. It can become bibliotherapy, a training opportunity that promotes personal growth and the management of emotional or relational problems, as well as being a tool for integrating young people with different language skills or competences. Theme at the center of a conference dedicated precisely to bibliotherapy at school, promoted in Rome by the Center for books and reading CEPELL in collaboration with the University of Verona.

Improve relationships in the class group

“We talked about how the book can represent a tool for well-being and inclusion and, in this sense, help teachers to manage the relational dynamics of the class group and more consciously face problems that often emerge such as bullying, xenophobia, disorders food, “he explains Mary Greco, teacher and school manager of CEPELL. “This meeting was the first appointment in a training course for teachers of all types and levels, developed by the school sector of the Center for Book and Reading and by the University of Verona, which will start in autumn and will end in December”.

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In kindergarten and secondary school

A path that applies to all schools and subjects: “Bibliotherapy is not reserved for teachers of literature and can be used in different ways, from kindergarten to secondary school”, explains Greco. “Remembering that we are not talking about a simple reading group but about a work that focuses on pedagogical objectives, which can then also have an impact on teaching”. To be achieved by choosing suitable books, ranging from poetry to philosophy to fiction.

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A therapy born in the USA

“Reading has always been used to take care of human suffering, while bibliotherapy was born in the US in the early 1900s as a chosen and guided reading aimed at a therapeutic goal”, he specifies Rosa Mininno, psychologist and psychotherapist president of the Italian School of Bibliotherapy (www.biblioterapia.it). “And it can develop in various contexts: from psychotherapy – integrating it into the therapeutic process to treat anxiety and depression disorders and in some cases even psychosis – but also as a tool for self-help and education to creativity in the pedagogical and training field”.

Learning Disorders

Without forgetting the work on inclusion, “expanding the tools to involve students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia”, explains Paolino Gianturco of the Italian Dyslexia Association. It is a question of identifying alternative ways through the use of technologies such as audio books to make reading accessible to students with this form of neurodiversity which creates problems in reading, but does not in any way modify learning skills: “However, avoiding reserving tools specific to people with dyslexia, at risk of making them feel different “, observes Gianturco. “It is important to alternate the different tools for the whole class, remembering that audio books are still precious for developing an important skill such as the habit of listening and attention”.

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The creativity

There are studies that show how above all literary fiction stimulates creative thinking, and helps to develop empathy by leading readers to identify with the characters: “Above all, literature allows you to teach problem solving analyzing the obstacles and available resources “, explains Mininno. And it helps students to understand that others have lived experiences and emotions similar to theirs:” In this way they can make them feel less alone “, adds Greco,” and help them plan a solution by relieving pressure and promoting self-acceptance “. A work to be planned carefully,” starting from an analysis of the needs of each class and defining objectives and timelines to then evaluate the results “, continues Mininno,” working on topics different and in different forms, from silent reading to aloud reading that gets used to careful listening, up to the production of written reflections to comment on this bed “.

Promotes well-being

“Bibliotherapy is an intervention that has many relational, supportive, well-being promotion values ​​- explains the psychiatrist Michela Nosè of the University of Verona – for this reason it is important to define scientific evidence for standardized models that allow to evaluate their effectiveness. Spontaneous initiatives are meritorious, but in a time of economic difficulty, it is important to make an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the interventions “.

To combat anxiety

And from the research comes interesting confirmations: “We have studies that confirm the effectiveness of bibliotherapy both in preventive and therapeutic terms, for example on anxious-depressive symptoms but also, in general, on global well-being: reading improves attention skills and can teach how to avoid bad behavior “, explains Nosè. Among the most interesting confirmations, a study on the effectiveness of an intervention carried out by the WHO, the REDEFINE project, based on a booklet created in several languages, to be used with the support of a facilitator trained for the prevention of psychiatric disorders in a population. subjected to severe stress such as that of migrants.

“The important thing”, concludes Mininno, “is to guarantee training courses that integrate different skills in respect of the various roles, from health care to those related to the world of school to families and self-help groups”.

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