Local bibliotherapist Zewlan Moor is helping others to heal with books
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.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT: Bibliotherapist Zewlan Moor.