Bibliotherapy is an alternative form of therapy that utilizes books and words to help you better understand issues that you are having and identify new coping skills that may be more effective in dealing with stressors. In many cases, writing is an essential tool as well, allowing you to explore your own story and truths through the fiction and nonfiction stories of others.
Bibliotherapy can be a powerful addition to your treatment program and provide you with a unique avenue toward healing and recovery. Contact us today to speak with a counselor who can direct you to a mental health treatment program that offers bibliotherapy.
*Individual Bibliotherapy vs. Group Bibliotherapy
- Individual bibliotherapy sessions allow you to focus on your own interpretation of the text and share your personal writing with your bibliotherapist.
- Group bibliotherapy sessions give you the opportunity to hear the unique view of others who have read the same text, which could provide you with insight into your own issues that you may not otherwise hear.
Bibliotherapy Stages of Progress
As you read through a text that is meaningful to you, bibliotherapists believe that you experience:
- Identification. One of the characters or the primary situation in the book is familiar to you.
- Catharsis. You become bonded to the characters and emotionally go through their experiences with them.
- Awareness and understanding. You recognize your own issues, perceptions, and the effects of those choices within the context of the story and learn coping skills that are more effective.
*What Do You Read in Bibliotherapy?
The choice in literature will depend upon a number of different factors, including:
- Your preference in reading material
- Your bibliotherapist’s area of expertise
- Your disorder
- The specific symptom with which you are struggling
Writing and Bibliotherapy
Though reading is the foundation of bibliotherapy, exploration of the text as it relates to your experience through writing is where the real therapeutic healing happens. You can write as much or as little as you want about passages that stand out to you or specific experiences within the book that mirror your own. The reading may trigger you to write out a memory that you feel is pertinent to the issues you’re working through, or you may choose to write out how you would have handled the situation differently than the character or what you learned from the character’s choices. Share the most meaningful sections of your writing at your bibliotherapy session.
Bibliotherapy is one of the few therapies that will practically require that you do work for your session outside of treatment. Though some therapies will ask you to practice coping mechanisms or notate specific events or details about those events, these actions are easily incorporated into your schedule.
It’s possible to focus your bibliotherapy sessions on short readings done with the therapist with time set aside for you to write your response and then share it. However, it is far more time- and cost-effective for you to do your reading and writing for each session at home.
Is Bibliotherapy Right for You or Someone You Love?
Most often used with children, bibliotherapy can be effective because it offers a vehicle of exploration in situations where it may be difficult or awkward to verbalize problems. For young children, the text may be read to them and they may draw pictures instead of write about their thoughts.