Bibliotherapy: Healing Through Reading

Bibliotherapy is the use of books to encourage healing, improve emotional wellness and treat mental disorders. The concept is not new. In ancient Greece, the library of Thebes was considered “a healing place for the soul.”

In 1916, Atlantic Monthly published an article called “A Literary Clinic” where the author shares a conversation with friend, Bagster, who ran “Bibliopathic Institute: Book Treatment by Competent Specialists.” Bagster explained that not all books have a therapeutic effect, but some he considered “stimulants” which “do not so much furnish us with thoughts as set us thinking. They awaken faculties which we had allowed to be dormant. After reading them we actually feel differently and frequently we act differently. The book is a spiritual event.” 

Johns Hopkins University School of Education indicates that bibliotherapy applies to using fiction, but Welsh psychiatrist Neil Frude expands that definition.

In 2003, Frude discovered that patients who were reading self-help books about their own conditions, namely depression, was serving an almost identical function to meeting with a therapist face-to-face. He used the term “magic” to describe the efficacy of bibliotherapy. The National Health Service doctors in England actually began “prescribing” self-help books to their depressed patients as part of a national program in June 2013.


The objectives of Bibliotherapy include:

  1. Increase your understanding of human behavior
  2. Develop your self-concept
  3. Help foster an honest self-assessment
  4. Inspire you to find interests outside of yourself
  5. Experience emotional or mental relief
  6. Give you a sense of belonging by reading about others’ similar experiences
  7. Show you different solutions to a problem
  8. Help you engage in open conversation
  9. Aid in a course of action to solve a problem
  10. Teach new skills for easier life transition


Are you finding yourself with a little extra time on your hands these days?  Perhaps you have always wanted to learn more about a particular topic.  Why not pick up a book?  I have a resource that identifies book titles that focus on numerous topics:  

  • Willpower                                                       
  • Freedom
  • Joy
  • Beliefs
  • Love
  • Faith
  • Healing
  • Focus
  • Insight & Reflection
  • Community
  • Visualization
  • Trust
  • Purpose
  • Truth
  • Integrity
  • Stress/Fear/Anxiety
  • Courage
  • Responsibility
  • Fullness
  • Breaking the Cycle
  • Skeletons & Secrets
  • Law of Opposites
  • Anger
  • Rejection
  • Balance
  • Perseverance
  • Passion
  • Gratitude & Appreciation
  • Loss
  • Sacrifice
  • Abundance
  • Journey & Destination
  • Humility
  • Forgiveness
  • Victory & Peace 

If you are interested in reading about any of these areas let's connect and find a book that speaks to you.  Move forward into 2021 with a healthier outlook.  A book could be just what you’re looking for. 

adapted from

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