Our Teen Biblio Therapy program is a treatment tool used in combination with Paradigm’s Expressive Arts Therapy program and based around the creative implementation and engagement of reading. An especially powerful treatment tool for adolescents that love to read, Biblio Therapy is based around the dynamic interaction between the literature and reader, as shared with and facilitated by the therapist. Biblio Therapy can be utilized in the therapeutic context to assist with personal assessment, adjustment, and growth.
Essentially, the concept of Biblio Therapy is similar to the Expressive Arts Therapy, in that it’s an indirect, creative way of helping adolescents gain access to the thoughts and emotions they’re experiencing within treatment. This access then allows for teens to more thoroughly address their own behaviors as they relate to their overall treatment goals. Teen Biblio Therapy is based on the simple human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art. This connection formed between readers and the characters and stories they read can be especially poignant and reflective for adolescents, which is why Biblio Therapy can be an especially great tool in this setting. Under the guidance of the therapist, teens can be nudged to ask specific questions while evaluating certain aspects of characters’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and within this experience of studying the characters, they’re also able to study themselves. This is where profound insights and connections can be made with relation to the teens’ overall treatment goals and personal growth.
The indirect and largely organic nature of Biblio Therapy provides a uniquely comfortable experience for teens to engage in therapy because they’re not so obviously studying themselves and their own struggles. This can be of tremendous value for some adolescents, especially those who may find it difficult to express their own thoughts and feelings. Because of the inherent challenges of engaging in Mental Health or Substance Abuse Disorder treatment, it’s common sometimes for adolescents to be closed off or resistant to more direct treatment approaches, such as Talk Therapy and Behavioral Therapy sessions. This can especially be true at the beginning of the treatment process, when teens might feel overwhelmed and/or intimidated. However, it’s also common for these same teens to feel more open and courageous toward evaluating themselves through the efforts of evaluating characters, and very often can gain some legitimate and meaningful progress during this time.
The connections, insights, discoveries, and growth that occur during and as a means of teen Biblio Therapy depends on the individual adolescent. However, its reaches are essentially as vast as the subject matter of literature itself. When the therapeutic effects of reading are considered within the greater context of literature study, it’s clear that great literary works have provided insight, strength, inspiration, wisdom, relief, and comfort for centuries. When professional therapists use these great works as tools in the therapeutic context, the effects can be profound and can greatly add to and further the work being done in the more traditional talk-based therapy sessions.
There are probably characters all of us can remember that changed us in some way, just as if they were real human beings. Along these lines, at Paradigm Malibu, Biblio Therapy is often used to help strengthen teens’ sense of self and/or self-esteem, help teens who recognize themselves as being different to accept themselves, reduce feelings of anxiety and/or exclusion, reinforce creativity, evaluate and recognize thought patterns and habitual behaviors, and enhance problem solving skills. When used in family group sessions, Biblio Therapy can also provide an excellent opportunity for healthy and effective conversations regarding relationships, personal struggles, and overcoming hardship. All in all, we consider our Biblio Therapy program at Paradigm Malibu to be a very special program that adds to our ability to provide each adolescent with the most professional and individualized treatment that can be created. And especially for teens who love reading and naturally connect strongly with characters, it can be a wonderful opportunity to deepen the treatment work and strengthen the recovery process.