NOVEL PRE­SCRIP­TION

Lo­cal bib­lio­ther­a­pist Zewlan Moor is help­ing oth­ers to heal with books

Northern Rivers Style - - STYLE -

CURL­ING up with good book has al­ways been a nice way to re­lax but the ben­e­fits of read­ing are far more pow­er­ful than you may think.

Like art ther­apy and mu­sic ther­apy, bibil­io­ther­apy (or book ther­apy) is in­creas­ingly recog­nised as an ef­fec­tive tool to treat men­tal health and mood dis­or­ders such as de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and to im­prove gen­eral health and well-be­ing.

Dr Zewlan Moor is a lo­cal GP who set up her own bib­lio­ther­apy prac­tice, By­ron Bibil­io­ther­apy, last year after find­ing she was reg­u­larly rec­om­mend­ing books to pa­tients with men­tal health is­sues.

“A lot of pa­tients I was see­ing didn’t want med­i­ca­tion,” she said.

“They had good habits, ex­er­cise pro­grams and di­ets – they had a good rap­port with me but didn’t re­ally want to see a psy­chol­o­gist.

“So some­times I’d say, ‘I’ll just give you this book and it will res­onate’ – and it did. Pa­tients would come back and say, ‘Thank you so much for lis­ten­ing but. you know, one of the most help­ful things was the book.’ ”

Dr Moor, a pas­sion­ate reader and writer who stud­ied chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture along­side her med­i­cal de­gree, says pre­scrib­ing a book can be a way of nor­mal­is­ing a sit­u­a­tion and a way of talk­ing about some­thing at a dis­tance.

“Read­ing en­ables peo­ple to have a sense of em­pa­thy, to iden­tify with char­ac­ters in the story and think about how that re­lates to their own life,” she said.

“Through po­etry or lit­er­a­ture and song lyrics you can reach things hap­pen­ing that they might not nec­es­sar­ily want to talk about.”

Be­fore a bib­lio­ther­apy ses­sion, pa­tients fill out a ques­tion­naire, which asks about where they are in their life and their read­ing habits. There is then a one-on-one 45-minute ap­point­ment and fol­low­ing this, Dr Moor will send out her pre­scrip­tion of books.

She says the ses­sions can be help­ful for peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing to a new job or new stage of life, or for those suf­fer­ing grief, lone­li­ness, worry or fear.

They’re not only for peo­ple need­ing “ther­apy” how­ever. Book lovers stuck in a read­ing rut or feel­ing over­whelmed by the mil­lions of books pub­lished each year can also ben­e­fit from a bib­lio­ther­apy ses­sion, Dr Moor says.

“Bib­lio­ther­apy is for any­one who wants to en­gage with books on a dif­fer­ent level,” she said.

“Ther­apy means dif­fer­ent things. It can be a form of coun­selling but it can also be ther­a­peu­tic, like a lux­u­ri­ous spa. You can take from it what­ever you need.”

PHOTO: KATE O'NEILL

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Bib­lio­ther­a­pist Zewlan Moor.

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