Thoughts on Bibliotherapy

Ever since I stumbled upon the concept of bibliotherapy, I have been fascinated by it.

But what exactly is bibliotherapy? The use of books as a balm for our souls has been around for a very long time. But now some therapists are using books in their practice as a support for other forms of therapy. Targeted bibliotherapy may be useful in issues such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. You can read more about it in this article. Watch the video below for some suggestions about books to help children with depression.

Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud started offering the first bibliotherapy service in 2008 through the “School of Life”. They even wrote a book called “The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies”.

The authors of “The Novel Cure” state “Our belief in the effectiveness of fiction as the purest and best form of bibliotherapy is based on our own experience with patients and bolstered by an avalanche of anecdotal evidence.” There are a wide range of topics covered in the book. There are suggestions for books to help you with less serious ailments such as burning the dinner, “coffee, can’t find a decent cup of”, hiccups, itchy teeth, and Monday morning feeling. But the authors also address some more serious issues, such as anxiety, “death, fear of”, and “drugs, doing too many”. As well, there are several top ten lists, such as “The ten best novels for when you’ve got a cold”, “The ten best novels to cheer you up”, and lists for every age, such as “The ten best novels for the over one hundreds”. For an example of five book suggestions contained in “The Novel Cure”, click here.

Although it is now popular to use books as therapy in medical settings, many people have been using books informally to cure what ails them for a long time.

So what books do you use?

I find that if I am feeling down, I reach for self-help or spiritual books. For example, a book I recently found in a little library, “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach, has indeed been very comforting. Every day has a reading on creativity and spirituality, and I find that often the reading of the day has at least one nugget of wisdom that helps with a current challenge in my life. One line from today: “…worst of all, we close our hearts so we won’t get hurt, when opening is the only way we’ll know joy.”

I also find a lot of comfort in books about nature. I recently discovered Diana Beresford-Kroeger, an Irish Botanist, who is now living in Canada. I like Beresford-Kroeger’s approach: yes, the earth is in trouble, but there are everyday steps we can take to improve our situation. I am currently reading “The Sweetness of a Simple Life”, and only 1/4 of the way into the book, I have learned  (among other things) how to take better care of my joints, the best diet to follow if someone is trying to stop smoking (not that I smoke, but I know people who do), and all about “marriage menopause”. The chapters are all bite sized and easy to comprehend. Best of all, she gives me hope.

Watch the video below, about the importance of garlic and onions, for an example of what’s in the book.

I’d love to hear what books you consider are bibliotherapy for yourself.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler

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