DR DAVID FEARNLEY, consultant forensic psychiatrist at Ashworth high-security hospital in Liverpool, runs a weekly reading class there. He says the experience of reading in a group can help people – even those with severe psychiatric illnesses – to build confi dence and feel more connected with the world around them.
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"The whole experience requires concentration and makes people refl ect and think," he says. "It's almost like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which trains people to thinkmore positively and to look at their problems in a different light. Some one-on-one therapies can be quite daunting but this is a comfortable place to start and a powerful way of learning to interact and to develop communication skills.
"Getting positive feedback is also a good way to boost someone's self esteem. Sharing ideas about characters gets people talking about their own experiences," Dr Fearnley adds.
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