Bibliotherapy- back to the beginning

History teaches that books have always been considered as a cure for well-being: in Ancient Greece, philosophers as Aristotle thought reading had beneficial effects on health.

Later, Romans confirmed the correlation between medicine and reading and until the 18th  century libraries were an integral part of psychiatric hospitals.

Officially, book therapy begun in 1937 when the American psychiatrist William Menninger started to recommend to his patients certain books which could be useful to treat their mental disorders.

Menninger is considered to be the founder of Bibliotherapy, since he was the first to ever introduce books prescription in his Psychiatry Treaty.

Since then, Bibliotherapy has spread rapidly and it has become known around the United States and Europe.

link: Bibliotherapy


The contribution of Bibliotherapy

First of all, the main advantage of reading is the inexistence of collateral effects.

Bibliotherapy is advisable for adults and children, without any limitation.

Basically, there are two ways of obtaining benefits from books: reading novels regularly or following a book prescription scheme.

Both ways can be associated or not to a therapy. It is up to you to value the benefit of working with a therapist.

If you are only going through a negative period that does not affect other spheres of your life, then maybe a therapy is not necessary.

If your suffering depends on a disorder, contacting a professional is strongly recommended.

In this case books are used as a support of the following therapy.

link: Can reading make you happier?


Fiction reading: the beneficial effect of novels

Books are precious friends that can help face the main events and pressures we come across during our growth.
Let’s focus on the positive influence of reading in a lifetime:

Childhood/ adolescence: reading novels at this age is a powerful builder of empathy.
Empathy is the ability of putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes: being empathetic means being able to see the world from different points of view, having a higher level of tolerance and respect. It is more probable that people who are empathetic build peaceful social relationships, easily solve interpersonal conflicts and have less difficulties in communicating with others.

Indeed, reading novels where the relationships among the characters intertwine could be an occasion to:

·         Build our own identity and social relations.

·         Stimulate the research of our own personality.

·         Develop critical and reflexive thinking.

Adulthood: this is when reading novels improves and shapes our personality. We become better observers of our own mental processes and recognize the problems currently worrying us as minor.

Old age: novels become friends that fill emptiness. They are a way to escape from negative emotions as loneliness and sadness. Moreover, reading novels lets the elderly exercise memory skills.


Book Prescription Scheme

Another approved method to improve by reading is following a book prescription scheme.

A book prescription scheme is not novel or fiction reading.

Book prescription scheme is an ensemble of technical books totally concentrated on curing a disorder.

Cognitive psychologists often recommend books (prescripted by themselves) during the therapy but a book prescription scheme is also a self-help manual.

Neil Frude founded the book prescription scheme with the aim of helping people find strategies to increase happiness and reduce the impact of negative feelings on their careers and relationships and it is currently accepted in the UK.

link: Neil Frude   Self-help books in England


How does a book prescription scheme work?

Once you know your problem (or you have obtained your prescription from a therapist), you simply have to go to a library and borrow your book.

Every book includes a step-by-step treatment programme with a list of exercises, notes, diary pages that you have to complete.

Reading regularly your book and respecting guide instructions are two indispensable requirements to make your therapy work. Don’t hesitate to contact a therapist if it does not  make you feel better.

However, remember that speed is the worst enemy of healing. So, take your time to read and fall.

You will see that your need of both reading and falling will gradually fade.

Here you can obtain more information about book prescription scheme and discover what type of disorders it can help deal with.

link:  Books on Prescription Schemes  Frequently Asked Questions