Book Therapy | How It Works
Each client has a specific wellness need or goal; sometimes, the need or goal may be expressed and transparent. However, more often than not, an unexpressed goal/need can be overshadowed by traumatic experiences. Therefore, a needs assessment is performed to uncover a specific wellness need/goal so that designed instruction (Action Plan) carefully aligns with the identified and desired outcome. I affectionately reference this initial step as target practice. Critical conversations will center on family history, intergenerational trauma, and the pain body. Artifacts, like journal/diary writing, educational
stories or narratives, may be requested. Onsite observational time may be required. These preliminary activities move us closer to the bull’s eye of individual, group, team or school wellness and health.
Each client has a circle of significant others who have an invested interest in the health and wellness of the client. Even
organizations and businesses have a vested interest in protecting the mission and stock of the group. Stockholders are
stakeholders; whether a client is an individual, partnership, group, agency or school, investors expect dividends. For a school,
high test scores, low drop-out rates and other factors associated with student achievement may demonstrate compassionate
teachers who implement strategic lesson plans, parents/guardians with loving dispositions, and academic rigor. However, if
high achieving students express dissatisfaction with life and/or themselves, then the seeming “dividend” presents as a health
and wellness problem. Oblivious or uninformed stakeholders live a blind reality. Although a parent or school praises a high
achieving student (reality), their full understanding of a child’s internal world can be misinformed (blind). Conducting a
survey of stakeholders for a client informs the book therapist on the internal and external realities of a client’s environment.
For instance, Institutionalized racism does not get eradicated, if some investors don’t feel that it exists. An awareness of a
problem is the first step in any transformative and healing solution.
After a careful and methodical gathering of information from the Needs Assessment and Stakeholder Survey, the book therapist mobilizes a team of professionals to create and map out an appropriate plan of action that will achieve the wellness need and/or goal. The action plan will not only identify and name the book used for the therapy session, but provide a detailed rationale and explanation for the selection. The rationale must always align with the client’s need and/orgoal. Even though specially designed goals are drafted for each client, every client will always have a wellness goal that seeks to rid the body and spirit of “mind noise,” the incessant loop of negative and self-injurious banter (aka Lucifer moments). Both formative and summative evaluations are established along with a system for progress monitoring. Outlined objectivesfacilitate implementation.
A book therapy session may not follow a linear style. After a needs assessment and stakeholder survey, a book selection may actually direct the action plan. Book therapy is a series of, sometimes, blended and non-sequential steps towards the wellness of an individual, team, group or organization.
An effective therapy book for self-love and finding beauty within oneself is Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye; healing for an ailing, sick or broken organization/team/partnership can be found within the pages of The Color Code by Taylor Hartman. Eric by Doris Lund provides a healing journey for understanding the pain and trauma of disease.
My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love; So Much More by Janet Mock is a beautiful choice for compassionate organizations seeking to listen, hear and understand invisible voices that intersect race, gender, ethnicity and biology. I, of course, recommend my
own memoir, Lucifer and the Schoolteacher: The Trauma and Healing of Racism in American Education, to assist schools and
agencies wanting to begin the lifelong work of eradicating institutional racism. Book therapy, as a transformative and
healing solution, requires a unique set of skills. A book therapist must intimately understand the psycho-social underpinnings of trauma, possess an acute and profound emotional intelligence for prospective clients, strong educational background in literary technique, compassionate and communicative speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, patient, forgiving and resilient temperament, comfortability with serving as a liaison between potentially conflicting contingents and a humble spirit which undertakes self-reflection as a source of breath and water.
Successful implementation requires a substantial investment of time and cognitive development. Perseverance,
commitment, adaptability and flexibility are critical elements for each and every client. When a book therapist secures a
contract with a client, the relationship becomes an extraordinary union of mind and spirit operating at a heart level. In other
words, wellness and healing only takes place, if faith and trust support the partnership. Full implementation has several
modalities that occur over a sustained period of time: faculty inservice, on-site training, online training, one to one session,
book club, zoom meeting, teleconference, docuseries, virtual talk series, guided readings, guided meditations…(just to name
a few). Regardless of the book therapy method, there must be frequent and consistent interactions between book therapist
and client over a specified duration period (identified in the Action Plan), and just like the designed instruction must align
with a transparent wellness goal, the modality of implementation must align with the designed instruction (Action Plan).
Homework assignments should be expected because every successful journey requires meaningful work. If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow. Book therapy lessons may be
emotionally and mentally painful; it will require individual, silent, and reflective devotion; it will demand that you are faithful with all reading assignments; it will require risk taking and uncomfortable dialogue; it will challenge preconceived beliefs, notions; it will open closed conversations; it will awaken truth in an entirely new form; book therapy emancipates, inspires, awakens, releases the mind and spirit from burdens, worries, hassles, tensions, and stresses. Book therapy can heal trauma.
Another powerful modality of book therapy is diary and journal writing. Book composition is book therapy. In fact, book
therapy may unveil a burgeoning author. The encouragement of writing one’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories into an organized format heals wounds. When you drain the swamp of the pain body, you release its negative influence upon your life. Carefully guided instruction for writing a memoir releases positive energy into the world and frees the heart and soul for health and wellness.
Although publication may not be the end goal for a client, instruction and guidance for publication is another modality of book therapy. Regardless of a client’s choice to publish or not to publish a memoir, renewal and rebirth pull the writer into a warm embrace.