Transportations of space, time and self: The role of therapeutic reading groups in managing mental distress in the community.

Article


Shipman, Judith and McGrath, L. 2016. Transportations of space, time and self: The role of therapeutic reading groups in managing mental distress in the community. Journal of Mental Health. 25 (5), pp. 416-421. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2015.1124403
AuthorsShipman, Judith and McGrath, L.
Abstract

Background
The practice of reading and discussing literature in groups is long established, stretching back into classical antiquity (Fischer, 2004). While benefits of therapeutic reading groups have been highlighted, research into participants’ perceptions of these groups has been limited (Walwyn & Rowley, 2011).
Aims
To explore the experiences of those attending therapeutic reading groups, considering the role of both the group, and the literature itself, in participants’ ongoing experiences of distress.
Method
Eleven participants were recruited from two reading groups in the South East of England. One focus group was run, and eight individuals self selected for individual interviews. The data were analysed together using a thematic analysis drawing on dialogical theories.
Results
Participants described the group as an anchor, which enabled them to use fiction to facilitate the discussion of difficult emotional topics, without referring directly to personal experience. Two aspects of this process are explored in detail: the use of narratives as transportation, helping to mitigate the intensity of distress; and using fiction to explore possibilities, alternative selves and lives.
Conclusions
For those who are interested and able, reading groups offer a relatively de-stigmatised route to exploring and mediating experiences of distress. Implications in the present UK funding environment are discussed.

KeywordsCommunity mental health; Bibliotherapy; Austerity; Affect; Dialogical Self; Affective Atmosphere; Reading groups
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Journal citation25 (5), pp. 416-421
ISSN0963-8237
Year2016
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2015.1124403
Publication dates
Print22 Jan 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Dec 2015
Accepted12 Nov 2015
Copyright informationThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Mental Health on 22/01/2016, available online:
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