Do you love reading to the point that it becomes a refuge from reality?
A way to enter another world.
For many book lovers, including myself, this is the case.
On many occasions I find myself immersed in story, resonating with the lead character and relating the fictional account with my own journey through this most ethereal reality.
Their troubles? A mirror of my own.
Their successes? Accomplishments I aspire to.
Literature has this power; to transport us to another realm.
And on a more practical level, non-fiction psychology books become a way for us to correlate our inner lives with emerging science on the topic, clearing up questions and confirming decisions.
Simply the act of reading is enough, allowing words to roll over our minds like a literary massage.
Fortunately, I’ve found that this predilection (bordering on obsession) has had many benefits, and since discovering the concept of bibliotherapy, I can finally understand why…
Benefits of Bibliotherapy
Some benefits of reading therapy include:
1. Providing Insight and Perspective on Personal Issues
To be human is to be a great skin-wrapped body of confusion.
Conflicting thoughts and confusing emotions often reign and when we’re trapped in our own heads, we lack the emotional distance to put our problems into perspective.
Reading the stories and accounts of people on the page allows us to see our issues from a different angle, providing the insight we need to move forwards.
2. Reducing Loneliness and Fostering Connection
When we suffer from psychological stress and angst, our brains have the habit of telling us that we’re the only ones to ever feel this way.
Negative emotions magnify and suddenly we feel that we’re completely alone – in a cold, dank pit of despair.
Becoming immersed in an imaginary plot or consuming a self-help book shows us that we’re not.
Although we’re all unique as humans, so too we share many of the same problems and encounter similar obstacles.
Reading about such issues connects us to those characters, illuminating unique ways to overcome our challenges.
3. Encouraging Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
When reading, we’re constantly and often subconsciously placing ourselves in the position of the characters.
Their experiences in a way, become our own inasmuch as we reference them against our inner reality.
Issues or accounts detailed on the page may well dovetail with our own experiences, even if we haven’t previously recognized such emotional signals as areas for further exploration.
This self-questioning elicits a newfound sense of mindfulness, making us more emotionally adept.
4. Promoting Coping Skills During Difficult Times
Resilience is a vast and often overlooked factor in mental health.
However, it can also be a vague and inaccessible term for those experiencing emotional difficulty, lacking the concrete steps needed to offer solutions.
Fortunately, reading offers a new avenue to learn this vital life skill.
By sharing the journeys of fictional and non-fictional characters, we begin to see how we can apply this mysterious art.
For example, when I read Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, I was at a particularly low point and it was only by reading how the author overcame similar demons that I had the determination to do the same.
5. Offering Story-Based Learning
“Show, don’t tell” is an oft-told journalistic aphorism and it means taking the reader on a journey with the words.
Don’t tell someone how bad something was – instead show them in vivid detail, by describing the circumstances and letting them decide for themselves.
Stories fulfill our primal urge to hear campfire tales.
They bypass our sensitive bullshit filter, which has developed in response to the marketing age of greed and misinformation.
Reading boring facts and statistics send us to sleep immediately.
Weave those facts between the lines of a compelling story, however, and we remain engaged throughout, retaining the necessary information for action.
6. Books are Constant Companions and Lifelong Teachers
As much as we’d like our favorite people to remain constant throughout our lives, unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
In contrast, books are often our best friends and constant companions, or as Stephen King once said, “a uniquely portable kind of magic”.
They also provide unremitting access to the best of the human hive mind.
So even if you grow up lacking access to adequate education or role models, learning to read provides a gateway into another world, and the ability to learn life lessons from the most revered authors to have picked up a pen.
7. Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Book lovers will know the sensation of curling up in their favorite place and getting lost in a literary world.
There’s something uniquely relaxing about reading that we don’t always experience with other forms of media, like television.
This form of escapism has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and when the reading materials are specifically selected to help you deal with such emotional issues, even better.
The combination of reading as a form of relaxation with the consumption of actionable information is potentially life-altering.
8. Offering an Accessible Adjunct to Traditional Therapy
Psychotherapy and counseling aren’t cheap.
Often these interventions are long-running and unblocking psychological obstacles might require multiple sessions.
While undoubtedly effective, this comes at a cost.
Bibliotherapy on the other hand, while more effective if used in combination with therapy, can also be utilized as a self-management method, acting as a starting point to encourage you to seek aid or increasing the time required between traditional face-to-face sessions.
I can’t overstate the benefits of bibliotherapy.
Reading is such a foundational human skill, transmitting knowledge through time and across geography, that learning how to live well has never been more accessible.
If you’d like to learn more about our bibliotherapy service, click here for more information.