With Flavia Capoano – psychologist, bibliotherapist and ABA tutor.

a different way of learning

The term “bibliotherapy” usually refers to a therapeutic approach that uses literature as a support for mental health, based on the principles of identification, catharsis and insight, typical elements of psychotherapy. This approach takes many forms and can be used in conjunction with different therapeutic frameworks.

Storytelling, creative writing, and reading have long been recognised for their therapeutic potential.

Developmental bibliotherapy, primarily used in educational settings, addresses typical childhood and adolescent concerns such as puberty, bodily functions, or developmental milestones. In fact, reading has been shown to be able to help people understand the issues they are experiencing, amplify the effects of other treatment, normalise experiences with mental health concerns and care, and offer hope for positive change. 

How bibliotherapy integrates with special needs

There are different ways to read a book, especially when it comes to doing this with a child. Children themselves may struggle to read alone, to understand the meaning of the words or to develop their own thoughts about what they are reading. That’s why sometimes support is essential.

A child who presents special needs can find very difficult to read a book autonomously especially because of possible difficulties in empathising, understanding emotions and describing specific situations; deficits in the theory of mind or problem-solving.

What WE offer

During her session, Flavia offers lots of different activities related to books, following targets accordingly to the children’s needs. To achieve these goals, while Flavia reads a book, she explores activities such as arts and crafts, thinking games, drawing and writing, imitation and physical games… also to make reading really fun and engaging!

Furthermore, there are factors to consider when it comes to choosing the book. The first factor is the book’s readability level and whether it is appropriate for the child. For this reason, sometimes Flavia prefers to use silent books or illustrated books with just a few words, working also on developing children’s imagination. It’s important to select the books thoughtfully, carefully considering the grade/interest levels; the portrayal of the characters; context; pictures and illustrations; and the author’s message, to ensure they are appropriate for the needs of the child.

About the themes

These are some examples of themes that can be explored during Flavia’s sessions:

  • Emotions: what does it mean to feel happy, sad, angry etc., and how to recognise these feeling;
  • Friendship: what is a friend and how can I play with them;
  • Problem-solving: it’s ok to ask for help when I don’t know how to do something.