|I am a Bibliotherapist - I use the ancient Greek practice of healing through reading. I use short stories and poetry to promote and build a strong mental and emotional wellbeing, without worry of stigma or being labelled. I use the characters in a story to create conditions within a group setting where the capacity for empathy, discussion and understanding can flourish and grow, enabling emotions to be brought to the surface that might not be raised otherwise. It allows us to come together to talk at the same table. As a participative therapy, this in turn promotes therapeutic healing.|
Do you feel worried about talking and expressing how you feel mentally? Are you afraid that you may be discriminated against or be labelled with the stigma of experiencing poor mental health? Do the words mental health make you feel uncomfortable and anxious?
Unlike some physical illness where symptoms are visible, mental health is easier
to hide. Everyone around you will probably not be aware that you are suffering.
Mental health is still difficult to talk about for many of us.
If you can relate to any of the above then Tales for Tea can help you. Words are
powerful tools. The wonder of bibliotherapy is that it allows you to be part of
a group, sharing thoughts and feelings, through the connection of stories and poetry.
My name is Sharon Dunscombe and I am a passionate believer in the fact that stories
and poems have the ability to heal and help holistically address many ailments or
issues including alleviating depression, pain, isolation, stress, anxiety and grief.
I also know that they can help “make a moment matter” when read to people living
with dementia. As Virginia Woolf once said, “Books are the mirrors of the soul.”
Literature – words - are powerful tools and can be used to make us feel better by
connecting us with the lives and situations of the characters; by using them as
a vessel to relate to others how we may be feeling. Used in bibliotherapy, they
have enormous healing properties and are capable of enabling a deep connection to
the work and to others, when read out loud in an intimate group setting. They allow
us to come together, to talk at the same table.
Can you remember the last time someone read to you out loud? We feel comfort when
we are read to. We feel cherished and safe. Some of us can remember being read to
as a child and it is this nurtured feeling that Tales for Tea and bibliotherapy
By listening to someone read out loud, our mind is given the freedom and the opportunity
to connect with a story or poem at a much more considered level, which in turn permits
a deeper understanding of relationships or situations. This process encourages light
to be shed on anxieties and worries that we would not normally raise in the pattern
of our busy everyday lives. It brings a more intuitive understanding and opens our
eyes and minds to underlying truths. Discussion without worry of stigma or being
labelled can then take place.
I have been putting bibliotherapy into practice since 2004, after running reading
groups for junior school children as part of my development as a Level 3 NVQ Classroom
After studying for a BA (Hons) degree in English Literature, I returned to my interest
in bibliotherapy and I applied to train as a Shared Reading Facilitator at Kensington
& Chelsea Library. I am now an independent Bibliotherapist and Founder of Tales
I have worked with students and lecturers at Exeter College, Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea Libraries, Made-Well Community Project, Help for Heroes, Recovery Devon,
CRISIS Winter Rough Sleepers and Dementia Pathfinders. I work in retirement villages
(St. Monica Trust) and hold sessions at various retreats around the country.
I am a regular speaker at NHS Conferences and Events and I also host a weekly radio
show at UK Health Radio, where I present a one-hour bibliotherapy session to a large
audience worldwide. I am an Ambassador for the Reading Agency’s World book Night
and am part of the BBC’s “Get Creative” Team.
I am also excited to be working with Dr. Surendra Dass, Chairman of the IHF Wellness
Orbitarium, Nagpur, who is promoting and supporting Tales for Tea to introduce a
programme of bibliotherapy to India.
a book club or reading group, where you may feel under pressure to have critical
knowledge of the book, Tales for Tea offers you just the stories themselves. I offer
you characters, and the stories that they have to tell, as a vessel, like an invisibility
cloak, to wrap yourself up, connect and relate to what you might be feeling. It
is this connection and sharing with a group that promotes a therapeutic response
in a nurturing, holistic environment.
It is my duty as a Bibliotherapist to make personal connections between the content
of the books and the people I read to. I normally run a group with six to eight
members, which takes approximately two hours. Every member of the group has an opportunity
to read out-loud and this is highly encouraged although, most certainly not, insisted
The text rich titles I use as material will include extracts from the classics,
modern literature, short stories and poems. These stories will have no relation
to the kind of ailment the group members may be experiencing. My sessions are facilitated
to take members away from their troubles for the duration, not to focus or highlight
them, unless issues are raised specifically by themselves and are drawn from the
reading of the text. It aims to enrich life quality and life spirit through looking
for the wisdom to be found in writing.
It has three recognized stages: (1) identification, (2) catharsis, and (3) insight.
Identification is when a reader associates themselves with the character or situation
in the literary work. Catharsis is when the reader shares many of the same thoughts
and feelings of the characters in the literary work, and insight is when the reader
realizes that they relate to the character or situation and learn to deal more effectively
with their own personal issues.
If you are an individual, you are welcome to join any of my groups. There will never be more than ten people in any given group, as this is the number that works well in allowing each person space to explore and share their thoughts. There is no minimum amount of weeks that you are required to commit to. One week, a hundred weeks – you will always be welcome. Please contact me if you would like to join a group.
One-to-one sessions also work well as they allow for a more tailored, personal experience. Please contact me to discuss further.
If you are interested in getting friends together and forming a group for me to run, the maximum number of people is ten for the reasons given above. I am always happy to discuss the formation of new groups and I am never going to run out of stories!
My contact details are:-
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