"How much can a bridge carry?" An analysis of the life stories of Arab Israeli citizen bibliotherapists

Angel, Tamar (2014) "How much can a bridge carry?" An analysis of the life stories of Arab Israeli citizen bibliotherapists. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis presents a qualitative research study of the life stories of five Arab Israeli citizen (AIC) bibliotherapists by means of open depth interviews. Methodologically, it combines elements of narrative research and oral history, emphasising category analysis of the subjects' narratives, while observing all essential ethical guidelines for such research. The five women were the only ones from this national group to have completed their formal training in bibliotherapy when the interviews were held, and the thesis therefore sheds light on a unique population of pioneering women. It focuses on their conceptions and experiences during their training and practice, for the purpose of illuminating the needs and perspectives of this group. It conceptualises an original body of knowledge about a profession still relatively new in Israel, including appropriate recommendations. I also consider the results of a pilot interview held with an AIC woman working in the related field of art therapy.

During the study, I came to understand that the AIC bibliotherapists are pioneers, first and foremost for their very choice to study a profession which is little known in general and particularly unfamiliar in their society. They have gained a unique experience in the practice and developed a new set of bibliotherapeutic texts, appropriate for AIC clients. They opened before me a broader picture of the struggles facing all AIC women professionals in Israel today, and in this, their discussion of literary resources gains a powerful edge. The study reflects the interviewees’ routine of coping with many complicated challenges in the training and the therapy room. These include tense political and sometimes violent conflicts, which influence both the mixed study groups during the training and their work with their clients, who direct loaded emotions towards them. All of them were the only AIC student in their academic year, filled with experiences of alienation and discrimination. Also, they have to cope with their many and divided self-perceptions in professional and everyday life; their role as a bridge between the two peoples; and the collective memory of the respective national catastrophes (the Holocaust on the one hand and the Nakba1 on the other), which is passed from one generation to the next.

Moreover, they have to face the range of dilemmas arising from having grown up in a collectivist patriarchal society in transition. This coping stands out in particular in view of the demand to integrate into the culture of the dominant majority in Israel, and to apply principles of "Western" therapy (therapy based on therapeutic principles customary in Western Europe and the US and adopted by Jewish therapists in Israel (further details in the chapter on reflection). At the same time, they have to accommodate the accepted norms and customs of Arab Israeli society, when these often contradict each other.

The thesis clearly demonstrates that future therapeutic training programmes in Israel must develop practical and intellectual responses to the needs of AIC students in order genuinely to integrate them. This would include recognising cultural differences and the effects of the continual conflict, while legitimising the Arabic language and literature among bibliotherapeutic core texts, and also recognising the limits as well as benefits of therapy in situations of political conflict.

1 'Catastrophe' or 'mortal blow', referring to the uprooting of the Palestinians during the war of 1948

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: D History > DS History of Asia > DS101 Israel (Palestine). The Jews
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry > RC0438 Psychiatry, including Psychopathology > RC0475 Therapeutics. Psychotherapy > RC0489.A-Z Other therapies and special aspects of therapy, A-Z > RC0489.B48 Bibliotherapy
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2014 13:47
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 08:53
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/48751

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