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Title: Student counsellors’ perception on initiating bibliotherapy service in the University environment
Authors: Somaratna, Sajeewanie D.
Keywords: bibliotherapy
student counsellors
university library
Issue Date: 2021
Citation: Somaratna, S.D., 2021. Student Counsellors’ Perception on Initiating Bibliotherapy Service in the University Environment. Journal of the University Librarians Association of Sri Lanka, 24(2), pp.27–56. DOI:
Abstract: Bibliotherapy or using books and involving in literature-related activities as a therapeutic method to address students’ specific issues is being practiced in several universities in developed countries all over the world as a counselling method, but there is little evidence from the Sri Lankan scenario. Hence this study aims to find the University student counsellors’ perception on initiating bibliotherapy service in the university environment as a counseling tool. Structured interviews and a questionnaire survey were conducted with the 42 student counsellors at the University of Colombo to check their views on bibliotherapy service. Forty-two student counsellors responded, representing faculties of Arts, Education, Library, Management, Medical, and the Science, and the response rate is 65.63%. Uncertainty about careers and study directions (63.64%), difficulties with motivation or decision-making (36.36%), and exam stress and anxiety (34.09%) are the most prominent issues of university students that bring to the counsellors and they practice short-term individual counselling method, followed by workshops and long term group counselling. Only 2.38% of the counsellors are practicing bibliotherapy techniques combining with other counselling methods. Six student counsellors were able to define the term ‘bibliotherapy’ and had a clear understanding of the method. After the proper understanding of the bibliotherapy service, all the counsellors expect that bibliotherapy service will help to overcome student issues such as ‘difficulties with English language skills’, ‘uncertainty about careers and study directions’, ‘exam stress and anxiety’, and ‘difficulties with motivation or decision-making’ but may not succeed in grief, trauma/loss, specific clinical diagnoses, abuse and substance. 67% of the counsellors identify university library as the most suitable place to develop the collection and self-help materials, workbooks, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, audiobooks, AV books, and e-books are the suggested material types. The main selection criteria for developing a bibliotherapy collection are based on the recommendation made by student counsellors. ‘Acquisition of knowledge for diverse people, culture, situations, abilities, experiences, and perspectives’ is identified as the most prominent benefit of bibliotherapy service and possible challenges were also discussed. Active involvement of the university librarians collaborating with the student counsellors of the university is essential to initiate and continue this service and proper support from the higher authorities of the university is recommended.
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