The Healing Power of the Bibliotherapy

GoodTherapy | The Healing Power of the Bibliotherapy Yael came to treatment after a long period during which she felt deep depression, emptiness, and meaninglessness. She tried psychological therapy, which did not significantly help her. Although she acquired coping techniques that helped reduce her depressive symptoms, she felt that she had not come to an understanding of the source of her feelings.

Despite attempting to investigate the causes of her negative feelings during treatment, she faced difficulty expressing herself and explaining why she felt that way. She decided to stop the treatment and look for other methods to alleviate her distress. While surfing the internet, she was exposed to the world of creative arts therapy and read about the healing power of the arts and the contact they allow with the unconscious. She decided to try bibliotherapy due to the deep connection she felt to stories and writing. 

What is Poetry/Bibliotherapy

Poetry/Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic method that emerged from the world of creative arts therapy. In bibliotherapy, the therapist and the client deal with the patient’s emotional state, relationships, feelings, and difficulties using books, poems, and even movies. The stories are chosen according to the client’s needs, genre, and content to which he connects. Writing is also used in the treatment, allowing the client to express his inner world. 

Already in the thirteenth century BC, Ramses II, king of Egypt, engraved on the entrance wall of his library the words “healing room for the soul.” For him at least, it seems that the healing of the soul through books worked well. According to various historians, Ramses II was one of the most influential kings who ever ruled Egypt and lived to an extreme age, especially for his contemporaries – over ninety years. The healing of the soul through stories and books did not stop in the days of Ramses II, and today bibliotherapy is gaining momentum and popularity in the treatment of diverse emotional problems. 

Where does the healing power of bibliotherapy come from?

The healing power of bibliotherapy stems from being a tool that allows bypassing rational barriers and reaching more easily the person’s unconscious, aiming to bring awareness to the causes of the problem that is bothering him. Through bibliotherapy, a person gains access to feelings and layers hidden in his soul and develops the ability to listen to them, understand them, and accept them. Without the help of the story, these feelings and layers often remain hidden and repressed. Many times there is a difficulty in touching painful contents directly, and the stories allow an indirect and non-threatening encounter with these contents. Through the conversation with the therapist about the story, the client gets the opportunity to examine feelings, experiences, and inner desires more easily. That is, bibliotherapy serves as a mediating factor and creates a therapeutic space that resembles a play area – non-threatening and inviting to touch sensitive areas. 

Also, everyone who likes to read knows this moment when he connects with the hero, identifies with him, dreams about him, imagines himself in his place, and experiences what the hero experiences as if it were his own life. When we read, sometimes we get the feeling that “this story was written about me,” “it really tells my story.” It is a moment of empowering identification in which the self becomes the hero of a book, the hero of a suspense or heroic plot. 

In bibliotherapy, we experience disconnection from the ongoing presence of existence and dive into another space. At such a moment, the self gains the enlightenment and empowerment of its existence. Through identification with the character, the patient can develop a higher understanding and awareness of the situations and issues related to him and improve his way of observing and dealing with them. Unlike normal psychological therapy, which often remains in the realm of the mind and logic, this therapy allows an opportunity to actually experience our feelings in a vivid and real way. The exposure to the living stories of others also helps in alleviating the feeling of loneliness and abnormality that accompanies various struggles. The reader is able to see that other people experience difficulties similar to his own, and he is not an exception. 

Returning to Yael’s story, we will see how bibliotherapy helped her improve her emotional state. During the treatment, the therapist brought various books and literary texts and guided Yael in various writing exercises to help her reach awareness and be in contact with deep content hidden within her. One of the books brought to the treatment was “Matilda.” “Matilda” is a story about a gifted girl who grew up with neglectful and difficult parents and finds comfort in reading books and her special abilities. The first chapter of the book evoked deep and charged memories in Yael, especially the following passage: “The parents look upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab. A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away.” These words in the book flooded Yael with the feeling of being unloved, and she painfully shared her feelings as a child whose parents demanded that she constantly change. This demand made her believe that she is not worthy of love, and this feeling accompanies her to this day.

Thus, the story gave Yael an expression of her difficult feelings, and she identified deeply with the character of Matilda, an identification that gave her relief and liberation. Also, being exposed to Matilda’s effective way of coping and the achievements she reached opened Yael’s eyes and gave her a different perspective on things, and even gave her hope. At the end of the treatment, Yael felt calmer and more optimistic; understanding where her feelings stem from gave her control over her emotions, and her functioning improved significantly. 

In conclusion, bibliotherapy is a powerful treatment tool that allows access to the unconscious, and discourse on complex emotional content and leads to emotional relief and the acquisition of more effective ways of coping. Bibliotherapy can also be used outside of the therapeutic setting, for example, as a tool to talk with children and spouses about conflicts that bother them. Besides the pleasure and playfulness we find in the world of stories, we should also remember their healing power and use it wisely. 


© Copyright 2024 All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.


* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.