Using Bibliotherapy in Recovery

My sense is that there are many ways to get sober. Some people find success by attending inpatient treatment followed by weekly group counseling sessions. Some clients find that a secular approach works for them, and others simply see a therapist and use anti-craving medications. If we posit that recovery looks different for everybody it would make sense that self-study could be another way that some people find success in abstaining from alcohol and drugs and growing in their recovery.

If you’re looking for another way to grow in your sobriety I invite you to explore Bibliotherapy. I like to define Bibliotherapy as an expressive form of self-study. Methods consist of poetry, reading, writing exercises, and movie therapy. Bibliotherapy is an old concept in library science. The ancient Greeks maintained that literature was emotionally and psychologically important and hung a sign above the library door that read “Healing Place for the Soul”. The idea of Bibliotherapy dates back from the early 1930’s. The basic concept is that self-study is a healing experience and that this kind of study can resolve complex human problems. The practice was used in both general practice and medical care after the second world war because the soldiers had a lot of time on their hands and felt like reading was helpful. During treatment in psychiatric institutions clients have found that reading has been helpful for their emotional welfare. Today, the modern healthcare and psychiatric community recognize the benefit of Bibliotherapy for a wide range of problems.

As noted from Bibliotherapy is not likely to be helpful with clients who suffer from thought disorders, various kinds of psychoses, limited intellectual and reading ability, various kinds of dyslexia, or resistance to treatment. In addition, some clients may use bibliotherapy as a form self-help treatment rather than seeking professional help. Additional caution should be applied to people who run the risk of misdiagnosing their problem, misdiagnosing mental health issues, or incorrectly applying techniques.

The benefits can be significant for clients who are homebound, lack resources to seek professional help, failed at other kinds of therapy, or people who are self-motivated to try an approach that offers benefit that is complemented by self-study.

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