Updated: Feb 21
Do you enjoy reading? Is it easier to connect with yourself and the world through literature?
Have you attempted to engage in therapy in the past but could not fully connect or benefit from
the treatment approaches you’ve tried? Perhaps it was difficult to find the words to describe your
experiences. If so, bibliotherapy might be for you. Below are frequently asked questions about bibliotherapy.
Although books serve as a method of escaping, through bibliotherapy we are finding a new way of confronting difficult emotions, experiences, and thoughts that perhaps have been avoided thus far but are no longer healthy to ignore.
What is Bibliotherapy?
Bibliotherapy is the use of books for therapeutic purposes. Bibliotherapy has
been around since the early 1900s when books were being prescribed as a treatment for
various mental illnesses. Literature has been used to help create a bridge between ourselves,
experiences, and emotions, and to make meaning of the story by analyzing and creating different
We are all diverse and unique, therefore we all process and make sense of our lives in different
ways. Some people process their experiences through literature. By interpreting how literature
relates to our issues, we are able to develop language to describe our concerns and needs. By
engaging in a conversation we also receive therapeutic feedback that allows for the nurturing
of self-insight, understanding, connection, compassion, and further reflection. Bibliotherapy
provides a sensitive method of mirroring positive experiences and providing clarity of personal
Literature can also provide validation. It helps us find support by realizing we are not alone in our
experiences. This not only helps us connect to the world in a unique way but also to ourselves
and in doing so improves our self-esteem and sense of personal agency. Although books serve as a method of escaping, through bibliotherapy we are finding a new way of confronting difficult emotions, experiences,
and thoughts that perhaps have been avoided thus far but are no longer healthy to ignore.
How does Bibliotherapy work?
Reading material for bibliotherapy can be fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and/or memoirs. A bibliotherapist determines a book after an assessment of their client's concerns and strengths has been completed. Clients may also have a book in mind that is meaningful and would like to bring it to therapy. While engaged in bibliotherapy there are other modalities that may be implemented in conjunction with bibliotherapy. During sessions, a bibliotherapist may focus on the concepts or experiences that resonate, analyze characters, explore values, and morals, challenge different narratives
Who does Bibliotherapy benefit?
Anyone who loves to communicate through books can benefit from bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy can be beneficial for all sorts of mental health concerns. Literature can be helpful when struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, generational trauma, childhood trauma, and much more.