The use of books as therapy is a concept which, it could be argued, dates back to the creation of books themselves, however the term “bibliotherapy” seems to only have emerged around 100 years ago. Whether it be escapism amongst the pages of the most creative novels, or the psychological questioning of theories on human behaviour, bibliotherapy as a concept is certainly not lost on me.
The term refers not only to the abundance of self-help books in many bookshops but applies to the therapeutic value of reading books themselves. So, with an abundance of new and old titles for us to browse, what makes a good book and what makes it therapeutic?
Identification – reading a book that describes someone having a similar experience to your own can help reduce the feeling of isolation and help us see things from another’s perspective.
Self-care – taking time out from a busy schedule can be therapeutic in itself. At this time of 24hr communication, it can be useful to unplug and dedicate some time to really slowing down the pace and allowing your mind to settle and unwind.
Information – some books are based on an opportunity to collect ideas and information based on what others have found helpful. Although this cannot always be directly applied to all, it can give a useful overview.
Escapism – the sheer creative excitement of a page turner can take us away from our own thoughts and troubles. Whether it be the abstract concepts of sci-fi, or the journey travelled in a historical novel, it is the distance it takes us from our own life that is therapeutic.
So why not take a visit to your local library, have a browse, see what captures your attention and enjoy some bibliotherapy.