How I Chose Bibliotherapy For My Master’s Thesis

Bibliotherapy - using books in a purposeful way to positively impact mental health - was the subject of my master’s thesis.

Due to the repetitive nature of writing a redundant 50-page academic paper, I actually haven’t been able to look at the word for a year, much less write about it.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever intrinsically loved something, but then it turned into a task for a grade (or for money), causing a fire in you to peter out and die as you morphed into an expert? 

Daniel Pink’s book Drive addresses this well. 

For me personally, I actually LOVE research, but something about the experience of an online master’s degree left me jaded.  

  • Maybe it was the random $120 graduation fee tagged on at the end for a ceremony I didn’t even attend?!
  • Maybe it was the extensive overuse of "the good old paper swap” where I learned…

BLANK SPACE LEFT FOR A REASON

Luckily, not even the most boring of experiences can kill my love for BIBLIOTHERAPY!

BIBLIOTHERAPY is back in my lexicon!!!

Mental Health and Biblio-Loaded-Word-Therapy

Since I’ve finally recovered from drilling its surface level definitions, I’ve regained my passion for it.  I strongly believe the use of literature to promote mental health can positively impact a person’s finances and their creativity.

That’s what this blog is all about, so I hope you’ll stick around as I gush on and on about BIBLIOTHERAPY.

Besides being the secret sauce behind the way I write my niche songs, I think it is a very underrated (yet obvious) idea leading to creative living, more purposeful reading, mental well-being, and social awareness.  

Most of all, I think it has enormous potential for helping people in an affordable way before mental stressors get out of hand or more intensive interventions are needed.

Reading for enjoyment is currently part of my self-care routine more than ever.

Discovering Bibliotherapy (and When My Mind Exploded)

At age 28, bibliotherapy helped me regain my passion for songwriting after a three-year break. Around this time, I was still performing shows for "the money" (passion killer ALERT).

Check out this girl near a pay phone with very bad lighting at 1:00 in the morning...Oh, that's me?!

 

Due to a variety of compounding factors, I crashed and burned in my mid-twenties as a songwriter and wanted to quit being a musician.... forever.

However, in an explosion of energy resulting in 30+ surprise songs in about one year, I realized I was haphazardly self-guiding my way through a mysterious process...

In essence, I was choosing people from history and writing songs "from their point of view" in order to identify with them, tackle a psychological conundrum, and universalize my insights with self-application. 

It was cathartic, it was far more interesting than writing just as me, it gave me an excuse to research random information around the world, and IT WAS FUN. 

This girl is having a lot more fun.  However, she obviously knows nothing about putting together a Youtube Video.

 

Coincidentally, I was studying gifted psychology around this same time. I came across the word BIBLIOTHERAPY as a freak accident.

A lightbulb went on.

Oh - That’s What I’m Doing With My Dorky Little Songs!

Since I love to read as much as I love to write, it occurred to me I wanted to study bibliotherapy and the creative writing activities that came along with it in a more formal environment.   

(In this case, the formal environment became what my husband called "college from the couch").

Before Education My Goals Were Clear

  • I wanted to help other educators and creatives find out about bibliotherapy (even people who would run from the word THERAPY).
  • I wanted to understand what lead me to manically and ecstatically write a ton of music in the midst of a complete career change (with no future intentions for the music).
  • I wanted to understand the natural psychological release engulfing us as we creatively process the stories of others.
  • I wanted to hone in on the process.  Many people (myself included) conduct this style of reflection intuitively, so why not refine the designated steps and make it more effective in order to improve myself and possibly build a bridge between mental health and storytelling? 

That’s why I studied it, right?  Not so I could write...

Warning: boring sample from my thesis.  When asked to describe an apparatus, I really describe an apparatus.

Participants’ MAP reading tests and resulting scores occurred on individual MacBook Pros from mid-2012 with 13-inch monitors. The processor on each of these computers had 2.5 gigahertz with Intel Core i5 processing power. The memory capacity was 4 gigabytes with 1600 megahertz and double data rate type three. The graphic display was Intel highndefinition 4000 with 1536 megabytes…

Back to life.  Back to reality.  Here we go!  I’m so excited!

Future posts will describe the four-stage process of bibliotherapy in depth.  I will provide a step-by-step example with a current popular finance book and a song I've written.

How about you? How do you choose subjects to study for lengthy and arduous papers?  

How do you maintain your passion for the subject throughout the class (and long after fulfilling the external expectations of others)?  I’d love to know!

DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.

(Consider checking out Todd Herman's book The Alter-Ego Effect for more information about breaking out of a writing rut while using story characters, people from history, etc.)

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