Wita Szulc PhD, Professor of Pedagogy at The Zielona Góra University, Chair of Arts Therapy Laboratory. Her previous experiences are numerous.
Professor at The Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan and The Wrocław University; co-founder (2003) and the first president of the Association of Polish Arts Therapists „Kajros” www.kajros.pl;
She is Chairperson of the Scientific Committee of the reputable Polish Journal „Przeglad Biblioterapeutyczny” (Bibliotherapy Review)) and she is a permanent member of the Editorial Board (as a Conttct Person) of the “ Nordic Journal of Music Therapy”.
Her publications, positions and qualifications are truly numerous. She is considered the most important figure for the spread of bibliotherapy and related subjects in Poland and a leading figure in Europe.
When and how did you start working with bibliotherapy?
My first meeting with Bibliotherapy took place in the 1980 year. At that time I was an Adjunct (PhD) on the University of Medical Sciences in Poznani and as a Head of The Department of Clinical Libraries (servicing medical staff) one time I attended a conference on non-pharmaceutical methods of treatment organized by the University of Medical Sciences in Katowice. There I heard about Bibliotherapy and Music therapy as the methods supporting the treatment of mentally ill people. Being inspired by those innovative approaches, I started conducting my own research in the field analyzing the services of libraries in hospitals located in the city of Poznan , with special focus on readership by patients with malfunction of motor organ. . The results of my early research were published in Journal for librarians Bibliotekarz (“Librarian”)).
I discovered „the big world of Arts Therapies ” at the III European ECArTE conference in Ferrara (1994). At the end of this conference every participant was requested to answer the question: “what does arts therapy mean to you?”. I answered in Italian L’Arte terapia e miglioramento della vita („Arts therapy there is improvement of life’.). It is also my opinion on bibliotherapy as one of the forms of therapy through art.
Poland has a long tradition of using books for therapeutic purposes going back to the 1920s
Tell us how you use books and storytelling in yours activities
My motto in all my academic work is borrowed from the Latin inscription above the doorway to Library in the University of Durham (Anglia): Non minima pars eruditionis est bonos libros nosse. („Not the least part of eruditionis is to be acquainted with good books”
During my bibliotherapeutic work I use my own concept of therapy which I called “Culture therapy”. It is an “umbrela term” referring to the different kinds of therapy which use the cultural media as a therapeutic tool. WORD and a BOOK there are therapeutic tools in Bibliotherapy and Narrative therapy. I have been conducting systematic research in this area since the 1990s. My main focus is Mixed Therapy, for children and adults, and Reminiscent therapy.
Using methods of Narrative therapy I apply the experience and research findings of such Italian scholars as: Duccio Demetrio and Michele Cavallo. I am also interested in fairytale therapy
I am also interested in the Reminiscent Therapy for people suffering from the trauma after being forced out of their own habitat due to war conditions, ethnic cleansing and massive movements of people.
What are your plans for the future?
Bibliotherapy, as a form of therapy using books has to adopt to the technological changes and modern ways of communication. The human nature remains unchanged though: the feeling of being lost out in the world, fear of loneliness and loss, the desire for love and friendship… all those needs can be satisfied by means of reading and telling. In my didactic work with students of pedagogy, as well as within the newly opened course on “Arts therapies” , I do my best to sensitise students and encourage for self-reflection on their own emotions.
I perceive the future of bibliotherapy in combination with other forms of therapy through art, such as music, drama/theatre and even hortitherapy (plants in libraries, a view through the window onto a garden). I am currently working on a book: „Why Arts Therapies?. Personal story” and, at the same time conceptualizing my next book: “Curative words. Bibliotherapy and narrative therapy”.