Hagiotherapy is therapy through a literary text of a religious nature. In our cultural environment mainly through the Bible, considered as a Book of books. In the New Testament in the Gospel according to St. John stands by the testimony of John in chapter 1: “At the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This sentence symbolically expresses in a clear and unique way the idea that has become the Word among Christians. The word is a bridge between thinking and action, an anticipated action, the germ of bodily creation (Meinhold, W. J. 1992 according to Babka 2021, p. 12).

The original texts of the Bible have not been preserved, we only have at our disposal copies closer or further away from the time of its creation. It is necessary to take into account that Christianity arose and began to spread during the beginning of the decline of ancient culture. The Bible describes many unique and even “supernatural” events, such as the dividing of the Red Sea, the resurrection of Jesus, etc., which can be a source of inspiration on a symbolic level for managing developmental tasks in contemporary society.

However, we also have older documents about how people used words and writing primarily as a tool to communicate with the gods. Inscriptions on monuments and tombs that even date back to a period older than 4000 years before the birth of Christ (e. g. Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia). Procedures were documented where the patient was leaded to eat a text written on papyrus so that the power of the words would take immediate effect and the patient would be healed. Priests also prescribed religious texts that the patient should read and meditate on in order to recover (Majzlanová, 1987). Even in the current globalized world, during the preparation and implementation of therapy, it is necessary to take into account the “more cultural” and therefore also its more varied religious character, perhaps much more than in the previous period.

When ascertaining the reading and other interests of the patient/client, it is therefore recommended for the purposes of bibliotherapy to ascertain the cultural and religious characteristics of the environment from which the client comes during the process of preparation and implementation. This is so that, for example, the therapist does not offer a book that, due to this title, could be unsuitable for a specific person for the reasons mentioned, or to be prepared for an appropriate reaction if it is recommended by him – although it is certainly of high quality – but comes from a different cultural or religious background focused environment, was rejected by the client. Alternatively, to be able to flexibly adapt to the relevant reading preferences of the client in this area.

From Christianity, the principle of confession, which brings relief to a person through another person, and prayer, as a way of immersing oneself and a silent inner conversation with the highest authority, are important for therapy. As part of the therapeutic-pedagogical intervention, it can also be reading biblical stories and other religious texts, writing out quotations, creating a reader’s diary, reader responses, writing letters to the protagonist or other reactions to what has been read (Majzlanová, 2017, p. 9), including creating one’s own author’s texts motivated by a text from the Bible. Here we present several examples of creative writing by one of the authors, who used statements from the Bible for her own self-therapy.

Samples of work

In these works, the most important thing is not to write or to repeat what has been done states in the Bible. It is mainly about helping to establish a close personal relationship with the transcendental, feeling one’s connection with God through the heart and the support of understanding how to be honest with him to converse in the conditions of ordinary everyday life.

Babka, Vladislav. 2021. Slovo ako nástroj v terapii. [The word as a tool in therapy.] Thesis. Bratislava: Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Education, Department of Therapeutic Pedagogy.
Majzlanová, Katarína. 2017. Základy biblioterapie pre knihovníkov. [Basics of bibliotherapy for librarians.] Banská Bystrica: Banská Bystrica self-governing region, Ľudovít Štúr Regional Library. 56 p. ISBN 978-80-85136-58-6 Available online: http://new.kskls.sk/domain/b5/files/edicia/zaklady_biblioterapie_pre_knihovnikov_2017.pdf
Majzlanová, Katarína. 1987. Z histórie biblioterapie. [From the history of bibliotherapy.] In: First experiences with poetry therapy in our country. Horizons of psychotherapy. (16th national psychotherapeutic conference. Františkovy Lázně, December 13-17, 1987)

It didn’t pass language editing!

PhDr. Kvetoslava Kotrbová, PhD., MPH, Department of Therapeutic Pedagogy, Faculty of Education of the Comenius University in Bratislava, June 17, 2023.

Recommended citation method:
Kotrbová Kvetoslava. 2023. Hagioterapia. [Hagiotherapy.] In Kotrbová, K. et al: Biblioterapia.sk. Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of Clinical Physics, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Pedagogues, 2023.  ISBN 978-80-974667-0-1 Available on: https://www.biblioterapia.sk/en/hagiotherapy/

The contribution was created thanks to support from the European Union Erasmus+ program, Key action 2 – Cooperation between organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small partnerships for cooperation in the field of education and training. Project name “Prototype of online study tool for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the authors and neither the European Commission nor the author is responsible for any use of the information contained therein.