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Introduction to Bibliotherapy

Do you know a book can sometimes help in therapy? You may have seen self-help books but I am not talking about that here. I am here to tell you that even fictional or literary books are good for therapy. Bibliotherapy is one of the approaches to therapy usually done along with traditional therapy but also can be used on its own. This is when the therapist suggests a book that one should read to help escape life. 

Bibliotherapy is one the remarkable ways to help in healing than other ways like music, talking, and writing down thoughts and feelings. Bibliotherapy is a way and a form to escape reality and can be extremely helpful to many people because they can pretend to be another person as they are transported to another world but in a book form. 

It primarily has two forms of therapy ie. developmental and clinical bibliotherapy. Doctors and psychiatrists are looking into diverse ways to help their patients every single day. Music, book, and talking are some ways to let people open up and explain how they feel and recover from traumatic experiences they have had to face in life. Using a book in therapy is not as big as engaging with music, art, nature, or other ways. This is because it is still new and people are not fond of the idea at first but once people they are into it, they cannot stop. When people hear it, they wonder, how will that help me? 

How does bibliotherapy work?

The way it helps them is it is a therapeutic way to enjoy and employ books and other forms of literature. Typically, the books that are recommended by the therapist can be of any genre or from philosophy to memoir to self-help although bibliotherapists suggest fiction. This is because it allows them to understand what they are feeling. Reading different pieces of literature and discussing them with a therapist or in a group therapy session is proven to help patients understand their feelings in a better manner because they can see how the book character deals with the issue that the person is having difficulty with. It also shows other than their own perspectives and other ways they can cope or face their situation. 

Another factor that helps them is it allows them to make sense of difficult challenges in life they will or may have come across within their lifetime. There are two versions of bibliotherapy one version of bibliotherapy is used for young children who are struggling to get out of their comfort zones and cannot express their emotions in a healthy way and the other version is for adults to address common life challenges, such as bullying and helping depressed adults and perfectionists or children with disorders. There has been an extremely high increase in bibliotherapy studies because they have now used it on refugee children who suffered trauma, victims of sexual abuse, adults with dementia, and children with OCD. These are just a few of the number of cases it has helped over the time since it has been introduced. 

Where is it used?

The way it is more common is, its used within school settings with young children who are 

Book Therapy 

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starting school but it is also used within hospitals. Although it is used within different settings, it has more or less the same layout it combines the traditional aspects of when you learn literature or Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation (RUAE) in school, character, theme, emotions, and plot. There are therapeutic aspects included as well when looked more into. 

It can be used when individuals suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders or if they struggle with trauma or addiction. It can be practiced with a therapist or without one. When a therapist introduces it is because it can be used along with other therapies alongside. It is not expensive and easily applicable to many. It may be used on a short trial with limited money or if the person’s mental health is not good, yet it can function more normally, this approach may be used.

How do bibliotherapists work with books?

What would normally happen is the bibliotherapist recommends a book or books are mostly based on the challenges faced by the person. Depending on the circumstances and challenges the person needs to face and deal with, a cognitive-behavioral therapist could recommend a self-help book or a therapist specified in trauma may recommend a novel about a character who faced similar circumstances. The person will take it upon themselves to read the book or complete the workbook exercise and in the next therapy session they will discuss what they felt during the time reading it or doing the exercise book and this will allow them to explore coping mechanisms, personal history and other relevant information that may be needed. It requires a lot of effort because they need to read the book out during the therapy session, but many therapists who used bibliotherapy report it does increase the person’s engagement and commitment to the process. 

The way most bibliotherapists work is a particular process that breaks down into four stages. The first stage is identification the reader chooses a character that relates to them and identifies their problems and goals. Then the second part is catharsis the reader realizes they face the character’s emotions and struggles, and they hope for a safe position. The third stage is insight the reader notices the similarities between them and the character or the situation and tries the decision from the book and applies it to their life. Then universalization is the final stage they realize they are no longer alone, and others have experienced similar challenges and find ways to overcome them. 

Many bibliotherapists are different they are all different. They maintain confidential details but may be open to reveal the process of how they use bibliotherapy and incorporate it into the therapy. 


In conclusion, Bibliotherapy is different and is proven to help people face their challenges in life and proves to be more engaging for the patient and even if it is not backed up by science all the way.  Through all the impacts it has had, it has become a proven way of therapy and helps therapists to understand and help people overcome issues and problems in life. 


Have you ever used a book for healing? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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