Bibliotherapy: reading to be happier

Bibliotherapy: reading to be happier

Falling asleep peacefully in the evening with your face immersed in the pages of a book is not only a happy hypothesis of a nice relaxing weekend, but it also becomes a therapy, better to say “bibliotherapy”, or that sweet cure that invites you to read for be happier!

Bibliotherapy: reading to be happier

When happiness is a book

Bibliotherapy or book therapy was born in the United States around the ’30s thanks to the psychiatrist William Menninger and it is a gentle cure for the spirit and the mind that involves the prescription of books by expert psychotherapists as “homework” from reading, with the aim of helping the person in his personal therapeutic journey .

In the USA it is still a very widespread technique today, but also in Ighilterrra and in Europe in general, still little prescribed in Italy and in certain contexts and particular situations, it is actually supported by several studies (for example that of Barlow or that of Febbraro in Science Direct ) which certify and prove its validity.


For whom bibliotherapy is indicated

Indicated at every age phase starting from when you learn to read, bibliotherapy is particularly effective in treating problems related to depression, anxiety, phobias or panic attacks , but also to help those suffering from eating disorders or sexual disorders not severe. In short, to heal the spirit .

In Italy, bibliotherapy is also used in some prisons , through group activities and individual guided tours, but also in schools, with children and adolescents . It could be very effective in behavioral disorders that include bullying, self-esteem problems, communication difficulties or simply in sexual education courses . In Reggio Emilia, for example, the BiblioHospital was inaugurated at the hospital, making about 1000 books available to anyone in the hospital.


Also read 3 books to be happy >>


Book therapy: why prescribe a book? 

In psychotherapy, the prescription of a book is a way that the doctor has of inducing the patient to reflect on himself, confronting his emotions, at the same time developing effective strategies for managing the problem or discomfort he is experiencing. .

It is a simple but important self-help tool, economic, practical, which has no contraindications and which acts both in the emotional and cognitive fields, increasing one’s empathic, self-knowledge and awareness skills.

The book alone, however, is not enough, in fact it is a three-way relationship, patient – book – therapist : only through the elaboration of the content by the patient and the active comparison, or rather the “bringing out” what has been read , with the expert psychologist referent you can say you have some material to work on in a positive way. 

The book is a tool that stimulates the overcoming of obstacles and the achievement of that “catharsis” otherwise difficult to grasp but in some cases indispensable, made possible also thanks to the comparison with the experience of the protagonist of the story; the awareness of the personal growth process will also be found through the rereading of the same book over time. 


The most prescribed books in bilotherapy

The therapist is the one who chooses the book to prescribe to the patient within a process of growth , evolution or change that he knows well and that he is monitoring together with him.

This is a fundamental and very delicate point, which moves within a world, that of books, which the good psychologist knows well and never ceases to investigate.

The best books are generally those written in a clear and simple style , made by those writers who are able to send messages in an accessible, clean  and honest way, wary of those texts that promise miraculous healings in a few lines. Among the most prescribed books? They range from “The young Holden”, to “Waiting for Godot”, to “Diary of a seducer” by Kierkegaard or the essays by Montaigne, passing through the “Odyssey” and even “Harry Potter” ( ).


Useful reading to deepen:

> “Integrated therapy for anxiety disorders” Ferdinando Galassi;
> “Book therapy and bookcounseling the doctor prescribed me a book” FP Pizzileo;
> “Bibliotherapy. Reading as well-being” by Barbara Rossi.


Useful sites: by Rosa Mininno, psychologist and psychotherapist, founder and director of the School of Bibliotherapy; The Bibliopathologist replies – International; 

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