Monday, April 03, 2006

Healing Through Books: Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy, also known as Reading Therapy, is the inclusion of books to help individuals move through emotional experiences.

Historically, bibliotherapy dates back to the 1930's when librarians began compiling lists of written material that helped individuals with trauma, thoughts, feelings, or behaviors for therapeutic purposes[1].

I often use bibliotherapy to help people I work with move through difficult events or traumas, like death, divorce, chronic illness, teasing, or hospitalization, just to name a few. Bibliotherapy can be used with children and adults, and can be something that one does on their own as well. And book clubs can be seen as a kind of bibliotherapy too.

Generally speaking, activities in bibliotherapy are designed to do the following [2]:

* provide information

* provide insight

* stimulate discussion about problems

* communicate new values and attitudes

* create awareness that other people have similar problems

* provide realistic solutions to problems

Right now, I'm doing the bibliotherapy thing. I am reading "The Myth of Moral Justice" by Thane Rosenbaum. I'm working through my emotions about injustice in the world.

Bibliotherapy rocks.

Great Bibliotherapy Resources for Children:

"Books to Grow With" By Cheryl Coon

Magination Press

Great Bibliotherapy Resources for Adults:

"Read Two Books And Let's Talk Next Week" By Joshua & DiMenna

"Reading to Heal: How To Use Bibliotherapy to Improve Your Life" By JD Stanley


[1] Pardeck, J.T. (1994). Using literature to help adolescents cope with problems. Adolescence, 29(114), 421-427.

[2] Eric Digest: Bibliotherapy


Todd and in Charge said...

Thanks for the book links -- I will check them out.

astrorat said...

i cant agree more. Viktor Frankyl's book, 'Man’s search for meaning', helped me work though very dark and lonely moments.

"The Myth of Moral Justice" seems like something i would want to get my hands on as soon as i can. Thank you for pointing it out...

SkyeBlue2U said...

Good afternoon to you!

Dirk the Feeble said...

I have to say, "bibliotherapy rocks" is a phrase I don't often encounter. I am now going to go make a T-shirt . . .

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Todd,
I like referencing my finds and including links so others can browse.

Dear Astro,
If you can't get the book, let me know. I'll mail it to you.

Dear Skye,
Good afternoon to you too.
:Tips Hat:

Dear Dirk,
I think it'd be a cool shirt to wear when watching schoolhouse rocks....remember that show? Anyway, it's not fair that you are so funny.


Fallen Angels said...

We could use a good book right about now. :(

dragonflyfilly said...

hey Deb; thanks for this. i was just talking to a friend of mine yesterday, who has a friend who does not want to go into therapy and whose "issues" are making their relationship untenable. I suggested that the friend may want to get some good "self-help" books. Talk about syncronicity (sp?)...anyway, i will tell her to look at your Blog. It is great. oh by the way, have your read: Taming YOur Gremlin:A Guide to Enjoying Yourself by Richard D. Carson {Virginia Satir said about it: ..."The imagery of this book led me to a very profound awareness --" - talk about an excellent recommendation, eh?}

and FYI all Blogging Bods, check out my recent post for info on Bald Eagle cam on Hornby Island, babies due in April!!! how exciting is that??

cheers for now,

Dreaming again said...

I love these kinds of books ... it's when I have to deal with the people part of therapy that I'm not so thrilled.

I'm fine with moving through emotional experiences long as I don't have to actually deal with another person while doing so ...

yea, I know, such a healthy outlook.

Heidi said...

I can always add another book to my self-help book shelf. Thanx for the info Deb.

jumpinginpuddles said...

these kind of books are awesome and first place we go is to that section of the library peoples lives are empowering at times sad but hugely amazing, at the moment we are reading a book "our woman in kabul" and the courage they have to live the life they do. Hoping some oif that courage might rub off onto us :)

jumpinginpuddles said...

oh and another one we have read recently is "healthy boundaries" excellent book and again helped us see so much

Precisiongirl said...

V. cool post.

I love my books and they give me sanctuary.

Ahavah said...

I can't believe I never heard of this earlier! I've been unconsciously using bibliotherapy my whole life. I'm definitely going to check out those links.

Dirk the feeble is right. I'd love one of those t-shirts. Or maybe a bumper sticker.

Thanks for stopping by my journal again! I was actually just thinking of you yesterday. I was disappointed that I didn't make it home in time to catch up on a few blogs, and yours was top on my list. Then I saw this morning that you had come to see me. :) I love the way the universe works.

Carolina Introvert said...

I have been hoping you would write about books so I could ask if you have read "This Changes Everything". It's probably old news to you but this is a great historical reference for me concerning psychology, and this was all happening during the time I was growing up. It helps me to see that I wasn't the only one who led a secret life as a child and a teen - it's just that nobody talked about these things back then.

I had never heard of bibliotherapy, but I know it would work for me, especially if the material was actually discussed in therapy. This would be great for someone like me, who reads constantly - but I keep most of what I read to myself.

A Flowered Purse said...

I have never heard of that Dr. Deb I will for surely check them out!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Fallen,
Hope you find one soon.

Dear Dragonflyfilly,
Haven't read Taming Your Gremlin. Great title though.

Dear Dreaming Again,
I can understand thatsometimes books are preferred over people. I think there are many who feel the same way.

Dear Heidi,

Dear JIP,
Two great books you've mentioned.

Dear Precision Girl,
I feel the SAME way.

Dear Ahavah,
So weird how that goes, right?!!

Dear Carolina,
Haven't read This Changes Everything. Love the title there too. Oh boy, I have a feeling I am going to be making more book purchases soon!

Dear Dianna,


"N" Search of Ecstasy said...

I always learn something new on your blog! Thanks Dr. Deb.

Anonymous said...

great post! books are an awesome way to heal and stuff. i love reading

Wendy C. said...

I didnt realize that bibliotherapy was actually a "therapy" but it makes a lot of sense. "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion really helped me turn a corner on dealing with my Dad's death. Her thoughts and feelings were strangely similar to mine - I had no idea anyone else had those kinds of thoughts - seeing that helped me to not to feel like such an alien...

And to "Dirk the Feeble" - your comment cracked me up! Thanks for the chuckle :-)

Sunnie Dee said...

I never knew this had a name, when I first went into therapy I had a very hard time talking about anything so we worked thorugh a book and discussed the issues in it and then slowly starting putting it in relationship to my life. It worked really well in the end for me.

mysti said...

I agree with you. Since I started counseling I have read several very good books. Two that come into mind that have helped me a lot were: Healthy boundries, and Managing Your emotions. Both areas I needed help with.


Id it is said...

I'm curious about the Thane Rosenbaum book you're reading. Would you recommend it to a lay person?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear N Search,
And I'm always learning on yours :)

Dear S-Girl,
Reading can be very meaningful. I always disliked the pressure of reading as a young school girl. Luckily, that feeling changed for me.

Dear Wendy,
I am adding the Joan Didion book as a resource on my list. Thanks for the info. And Dirk The Feeble is a very funny blogger. You should check out his blog.

Dear Sonnie Dee,
I am so glad :)

Dear Mysti,
You are the second person to mention those two books. I have to check them out.

Dear Id It Is,
It is a GREAT book for anyone. Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist as well as a nonfiction writer, and a law professor too. He fills this book on moral justice with films, historical events and other cultural world wide phenomenons. I cannot put it down, and endorse it highly. If you get it and read it, I'd love to know what you think about it.


Dawn said...

woah, i have some reading to do.

all these books sound great :)

Rose said...

Deb. I haven't heard that word much. Visiting you is always a learning experience.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dawn,
Read only what moves you. That's what I do.

Dear Rose,
I learn from you as well. Such a great thing about blogging, the learning and the sharing.


alan said...

Some of the most wonderful things I've learned about myself and life have come from books; not even ones intended for that, but life lessons are life lessons!


Fallen Angels said...

All the books that have been listed sound really great, but don't seem to be quite what we need right now. Currently in our library we have "Amounst Ourselves", "The Fractured Mirror", "The Stranger in the Mirror", "The DID Sourcebook", "Thou Shalt Not be Aware", "The Drama of the GIfted Child" (last two by Alive Miller...don't know the names of the authors of the others off the top of my head) and "Cutting". Having a difficult time Finding something to help with recent events that doesn't assume you can recognize what you are feeling. :P


Joel said...

I found Anne Bancroft's Pocket Buddhist Reader most helpful during last year's recovery. The Practical Cogitator is a nice tote-around anthology that touches on many themes, though -- having been written in the 1940s and 1950s -- it lacks insight from women. (Think "Man this" and "man that".)

Too bad there isn't a list of helpful books out there.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Alan,
Me too :)

Dear Fallen,
The idea behind this post is that books can open a world for exploring emotions and finding resolutions. The thing is to find a book that works for you. Sounds like you are doing a lot of that.

Dear Joel,
I am gonna check out that one too. Oh boy, is really loving me lately!!!!


Leesa said...

I have actually done bibliotherapy within the scope of therapy. Not only does it help in ways that dr ~deb has already mentioned, but also it lets us know, consciously or subconsciously that we are not alone. I think some people need that.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Leesa,
You and I know what books can do!! Thanks for stopping by. I love your blog and especially enjoy when you pop in here to comment.


astrorat said...

Sounds like a great idea! i will look for the book locally. I am sure "Borders" in Malaysia, will have it! :D thank you for offering!

astrorat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Astro,
Like I said, let me know. I am almost done reading it and really think it's a meaningful piece of work.


dragonflyfilly said...

Hi Deb
there is another book excerpt posted at my Blog that you might be interested in (if you don't know of it already!) -- also a syncronistic eagle story,
have a fab weekend,
cheers, pj

Happystance said...

Bibliotherapy has been trialled as part of the NHS in the UK.
What with the popularity of cinematherapy, I recently speculated that it will not be long before doctors are prescribing relevant videogames for specific demographics such as young men, seriously ill children, etc.

Best - Tony

Kim said...

Best book I ever received was "Love Must Be Tough" by James Dobson. Got it from my mother while going through an almost-divorce.

Turned my life around, gave me strength to confront behaviours....amazing.

Dr Dork said...

Hi Dr Deb

That book by Rosenbaum sounds interesting. What's your take on the "fallacy of fairness" ? This is something I have struggled with in my own experience of CBT
Regards, Dork

augustknight said...

Never have I heard of this. Always have I used it. Now it has a name. Depression is a lone thing, reading is also. I have taken succor from many sources, frankly not much from 'self help' books. Some author's express their loniness through their work. Wallace Stevens and Henry James are two of them. Any depressed person will see themselves in their writings. And the visual can also be instructive. I can't look at the paintings of Georgio de Chirico without the pang of recognition and regret. Ironically we are social group of loners. Dr. Serani is a bright beacon in a foggy night.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dragonfilly,
Thanks for the info.

Dear Tony at Happystance,
I think you are right!

Dear Kim,
I'm going to put that book on my referral list. There;s nothing quite like word of mouth for a good book. And ain't moms the best!

Dear Dr. Dork,
The evil fallacy of fairness. Sadly we don't live in a world that is fair, yet we teach our children to be fair. I think there is value in this CBT paradigm, but I waiver in using it. Did you find it helpful? The Rosenbaum book was fabulous.

Dear August,
So glad you came by to visit. Depression is a lone thing, well said.