The Comprehensive Guide to Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy is a type of psychotherapy or self-help intervention that uses books as its primary mode of treatment.

It’s been used for centuries, and there is evidence to suggest that it can be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health issues.

In this article, we’ll discuss what bibliotherapy is, the benefits of the approach and some use cases for the therapy (if you’d like to learn more, check out our bibliotherapy service).

So if you’ve ever read a book and felt like it was written just for you, then read on to learn more.

Literature as Therapy

While the roots of bibliotherapy can be traced back to ancient Greece and perhaps beyond, this practice has only recently begun to gain widespread popularity in modern society.

One major reason for this increase in popularity is the rapid growth of digital literature and technology, which has made it easier than ever for people to connect with books.

In addition, many mental health professionals have embraced bibliotherapy as a powerful tool that can help treat anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, and other debilitating conditions.

Through the combination of written words with crucial therapeutic techniques like cognitive reframing or mindfulness training, bibliotherapy has significant potential to change lives for the better.

Whether we are reading a beloved classic novel or an emotionally-charged self-help guide, we can all benefit from the healing power of books.

The Purpose of Reading

Bibliotherapy is an emerging therapeutic practice that uses reading and writing therapy to help individuals address various emotional, psychological and mental health issues.

When implemented correctly, it can be an incredibly effective method for helping people to work through difficult experiences, navigate challenging situations, and effectively manage their emotions.

However, the purpose of bibliotherapy is not simply limited to helping individuals find relief from their immediate symptoms or seeking a quick fix.

Instead, the ultimate goal of this therapeutic approach is to encourage individuals to reflect on the larger social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape their individual experiences in order to facilitate personal insight and change.

In this way, bibliotherapy can not only help individuals address specific psychological issues, but make them more resilient in the face of adversity and empower them in the pursuit of personal growth.


There are significant benefits of bibliotherapy:

  • Evidence suggests that bibliotherapy may be an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and stress, while also improving self-esteem and coping skills.
  • The method has a high compliance rate with literature enthusiasts who are receptive to incorporating reading into their therapeutic healing.
  • The technique can be used in individual or group settings.
  • It can be utilised with any type of book, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and autobiographical titles.
  • It’s a low-cost intervention that can be performed remotely in conjunction with traditional, face-to-face therapy.

Types of Bibliotherapy

There are many different forms of bibliotherapy, each of which addresses different needs and concerns.

For example, some types of bibliotherapy use prose, poetry, or plays as tools for exploration. Other forms may involve memoirs or fictional stories, in which characters experience similar struggles to those experienced by the reader.

Additionally, some types of bibliotherapy are aimed specifically at certain populations, such as children or seniors, or focus on particular themes, such as trauma or recovery.

Ultimately, the goal of bibliotherapy is to promote healing through the power of literature.

Book Therapy Techniques

There are many different approaches to bibliotherapy, and each technique draws on different texts depending on the individual’s needs.

One approach that is commonly used with children utilizes picture books to target specific issues or emotions, as children find it easier to relate to imagery rather than concept-heavy text.

Another popular approach involves using poetry as a creative way of helping people manage psychological issues and navigate the ups and downs of life.

Regardless of the type of bibliotherapy that an individual engages in, it is important for practitioners to be aware of how different writing styles can have different effects on patients.

This way, they can tailor their therapeutic reading and writing interventions to perfectly meet each patient’s unique needs.

Thus, through careful consideration of bibliotherapy examples and techniques, individuals can gain valuable insights into themselves and the world around them.


Conditions Treated

Bibliotherapy, or therapy through reading, has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health issues. This includes:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders

The key is to find the right book for the individual reader.

A good bibliotherapist will be able to recommend books that will help the client understand and work through their specific issues.

In addition, bibliotherapy can be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to provide an even more comprehensive treatment plan.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, consider speaking to your therapist about incorporating bibliotherapy into your treatment plan.

How to Start

While this treatment approach can be used in a variety of different ways, there are some specific steps and activities that are often recommended for those starting this self-care.

Firstly, it’s vital to identify the types of books and genres that best resonate with you. Some people may prefer to read traditional fiction or memoirs, while others may benefit more from books about self-help or psychology.

Furthermore, a person struggling with anxiety might benefit from a self-help book about relaxation techniques, while someone dealing with depression might find comfort in a novel about loss and grief.

It’s also important to consider whether you prefer physical books, e-books, or audiobooks, as each of these offers its own unique benefits.

Once you have chosen your preferred reading material, the next step is simply to start reading. To get the most from the process, it can be useful to try a technique called creative reading.

These sessions can be made even more effective by keeping a journal or notebook where you can document your thoughts and feelings during and after the reading process. This will help you better understand how this particular book speaks to your specific needs and circumstances.

Common Bibliotherapy Books

1. One of the most commonly used books in bibliotherapy is the classic children’s book “The Little Prince.” This tale about a child who encounters many strange worlds has become a staple of bibliotherapists, as it is often seen as an ideal introduction to the practice.

2. Another popular text used in bibliotherapy is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, which offers practical advice for overcoming fears and anxieties. This book is often recommended to clients who are struggling with challenges such as social anxiety or performance-based stress.

3. Other common works that are used in bibliotherapy include “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, which explores the meaning of life and suffering, and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, which highlights the beauty and simplicity of nature. These books help to guide readers on their own journey towards empowerment and understanding.


Bibliotherapy, also known as book therapy, is a type of therapeutic technique that involves using literature to help individuals process and overcome difficult emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Ultimately, bibliotherapy can be an extremely powerful tool for helping people to cope with distress, working through various psychological challenges and issues to transform their lives.

If you need further help with this approach, consult my book notes and reading recommendations.