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Student Counsellors’ Perception on Initiating Bibliotherapy Service in the University Environment


Sajeewanie D. Somaratna

University of Colombo, LK
About Sajeewanie D.
Senior Assistant Librarian, Faculty of Science
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Bibliotherapy or use of books and literature related activities as a therapeutic method or counselling method to address students’ specific issues is being practiced in several universities in developed countries all over the world. However, 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 using student counsellors at the University of Colombo to check their views on bibliotherapy service. Forty two counsellors responded, representing faculties of Arts, Education, Library, Management, Medical, and the Science, with response rate of 65.63%. Uncertainty about careers and study directions (63.64%), difficulties in motivation or decision making (36.36%), and exam stress and anxiety (34.09%) are the most prominent issues of university students those were brought to the counselors who practiced short-term individual counselling method, followed by workshops and long term group counselling. Only 2.38% of the counsellors are practicing bibliotherapy techniques in combination with other counselling methods. Six student counsellors were able to define the term ‘bibliotherapy’ and had a clear understanding of the method. After having a proper understanding of the bibliotherapy service, all the counsellors believe that bibliotherapy service would help overcome the student issues such as ‘difficulties with English language skills’, ‘uncertainty about careers and study directions’, ‘exam stress and anxiety’, and ‘difficulties in 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, work books, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, audio books, audiovisual books, and e-books as 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 by diverse people in culture, situations, abilities, experiences, and perspectives’ is identified as the most prominent benefit of bibliotherapy service. Possible challenges also were 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.

How to Cite: 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:
Published on 29 Jun 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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