Definition

• Bibliotherapy is an adjunct to psychological
treatment that incorporates appropriate books
or other written materials, usually intended to
be read outside of psychotherapy sessions,
into the treatment regimen.
• Bibliotherapy, a therapeutic approach that
uses literature to support good mental health,
is a versatile and cost-effective treatment
option often adapted or used to supplement
other types of therapy. 

and stress-related physical disorders. Practitioners have reported successful use of bibliotherapy in treating eating disorders. alcohol and substance abuse. • Bibliotherapy has been applied in a variety of settings to many kinds of psychological problems. . agoraphobia . anxiety and mood disorders. Purposes • The goal of bibliotherapy is to broaden and deepen the client's understanding of the particular problem that requires treatment.

Claire. . Northvale. 2nd Edition. Ref • Weekes. "Bibliotherapy. NJ: Jason Aronson." In Handbook of the Treatment of the Anxiety Disorders. edited by Carole Lindemann. Inc.. 1996.

. physicians like Benjamin Rush and Minson Galt II began to use bibliotherapy as an intervention technique in rehabilitation and the treatment of mental health issues. creative writing. when Grecian libraries were seen as sacred places with curative powers. bibliotherapy was used to help returning soldiers deal with both physical and emotional concerns. In the early nineteenth century. and reading have long been recognized for their therapeutic potential. The use of literature as a healing method dates back to ancient Greece. During World Wars I and II.• Storytelling.

• In a 1916 article published in The Atlantic Monthly. and Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. as a treatment modality. establishing poetry therapy. and in 1969. Bibliotherapy's use expanded further in the 1950s when Carolyn Shrodes developed a theoretical model based on the premise that people are greatly influenced by the characters they identify with in stories. officially recognized this modality as a form of mental health treatment.  . published in 1941. a form of bibliotherapy. The American Library Association issued an official definition in 1966. The Association of Poetry Therapy formed. Samuel Carothers defined bibliotherapy as the process of using books to teach those receiving medical care about their conditions.

or developmental milestones. bodily functions. Reading has been shown to be able to help people understand the issues they are experiencing. primarily used in educational settings. amplify the effects of other treatment. How Is Bibliotherapy Used? • Developmental bibliotherapy. addresses typical  childhood and adolescent concerns  such as puberty. • Therapeutic bibliotherapy takes many forms and can be used in conjunction with many different therapeutic frameworks. normalize experiences with mental health concerns and care. and offer hope for positive change. .

Self-help may be conducted with or without the guidance of a therapist. A cognitive behavioral  therapist teaching someone deep breathing and emotion regulation techniques may provide that person with a practice workbook to use at home.• The approach may be incorporated in one or more of the following ways:  Prescriptive bibliotherapy.  . involves the use of specific reading materials and workbooks to address a variety of mental health concerns. which is also referred to as self-help. – Books on Prescription is a program where reading materials targeting specific mental health needs are "prescribed" by mental health professionals.

  • This method is most beneficial when people are able to identify with a character. experience an emotional catharsis as a result of this identification. short stories. . and biographies—to improve psychological well-being. poetry.• Creative bibliotherapy utilizes imaginative literature—novels. and then gain insight about their own life experiences. plays.

and aiding in the ability to face developmental crises. and cognitive behavioral therapy. Studies show reading as a form of therapy to be useful in the treatment of depression. posttraumatic stress. improving self-esteem.  eating disorders. anxiety. and communication issues.  . Issues treated • Reading can benefit individuals of any age by increasing self-awareness. mild alcohol abuse. play therapy. Books can be incorporated easily into any number of modalities. among others. such as family systems therapy. or grief might also benefit from the incorporation of books and reading activities into the approach being used.  • People in therapy for issues such as family-related challenges.

• Bibliotherapy can assist children in overcoming problems by having them read stories about characters who have successfully resolved a dilemma similar to their own. The underlying premise of bibliotherapy is that interpreting stories is an ever-changing process to which children bring their own needs and experiences. death. or draw pictures describing their innermost thoughts. stories can serve to facilitate open discussion and self- understanding.  . Since students often have difficulty identifying and communicating their feelings. etc. alienation. act out. war. poverty. they are more able to verbalize. Identification with a literary model can foster thought and possible resolution to a problem such as dealing with a separation. illness. If children become emotionally involved with literary characters. disability. disaster.

• stimulate discussion. • discover possible coping skills and solutions. • realize that other children have problems similar to their own.• The goals of bibliotherapy are to help children: • identify and validate their feelings. • foster thought and self-awareness. and • decide on a constructive course of action. .

• Locate literature that deals with emotional and developmental difficulties or unfortunate situations your student or students may be experiencing. . Read the material prior to using it or recommending it. gender. librarians and teachers use bibliotherapy? • Identify the needs of individuals or groups of students.• How can counselors. The characters and plot should be realistic and include honest problem- solving. consider books on tape or videos to assist children in learning ways to cope with their problems. be sure it is appropriate for the child's age. maturity and background. If literature is not available on a particular subject. Seek administrator approval if you plan to use bibliotherapy on topics that may be controversial in your community. If you choose to read aloud or to refer a child to a particular story or book.

•   • When deemed necessary. all children encounter some difficulties in their lives. • Design follow-up activities such as asking open-ended questions. – facing a problem is the first step to solving it. they need to think of something else to try. writing reactions. and/or using various art materials to help children discover that:   – other children have similar feelings when confronted with comparable circumstances. . tape recording thoughts.• Chose a method to involve a child or children with the literature. – there are a variety of ways to deal with a dilemma and that they can decide on a course of action. Read a story aloud to one child or to small or large groups of children. acting out roles. and – it takes time to remedy a problem. – everyone has strengths and weaknesses and through self-appraisal children can learn to persevere. using puppets. involve children's parents in the process. Offer suggestions for additional reading selections and/or activities to assist the students in dealing with their emotions and specific difficulties. students may read assigned stories or books on their own. – they are not the only ones who experience dilemmas. if they are unsuccessful at first. Also. Those children with similar concerns could meet in small groups. retelling the story.