Book therapy for mental health:Can books heal you?

Book therapy for mental health is being researched all over the world

What is your happy Book?
What makes it your happy book? Why do you love reading it? 

Book therapy for mental health: Can books heal you

Book therapy for mental health: Can books heal you

Often in the daily  business of everything, you forget to unwind.
You need to take a short’ me time break ‘every day.
Just like your body feels tired so does your mind too.
The best breaks are those, that provide  relaxation for both mind and body.


For a healthy mind,  3  things are crucial:

  • Nourishment for mind:Books and nature
  • Food for your health:Healthy diet.
  • Companionship :Friends and family.

During my school days ,summer holidays meant devouring books .Morning noon and night .

Stephen King says reading during meals can make you unpopular.I was  scolded quite often for this naughty .My favourite  is still a nail-biting murder mystery.But can’t really do the reading during meals in front of the little one.


There’s something about solving a murder that makes me feel happy.When all problems  seem too big.Solve a little mystery.That’s bound to help you feel better.


Have you heard of bibliotherapy?

Bibliotherapy is a little-explored branch.
Bibliotherapy (or healthy reading) has been defined as ‘using written texts, computer programs or audio/video-recorded material for understanding or solving problems about a person’s development or in meeting their therapeutic needs’.(1)

Books are researched as self-help aids in Cognitive  behavioural therapy. 
Words  are powerful.
A healthy reading list can help you  heal from inside.

It’s showing promise as self-help or assisted therapy in  mental health challenges like:


It is used as an additive therapy.It can decrease antidepressant dosing and help prevent relapse(2-5).


Bibliotherapy resources include:(4-7)

  • Books and workbooks,
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Access to internet sites
  • It usually contains information, descriptions of other people’s experiences or a workbook or  cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques.

Sometimes this can be used as preventive therapy too.

Healthy reading could be  useful  if you have issues with
depression ,but not keen or able to take antidepressants.

Books can influence positively or negatively.Choose your reading list with care.Words can create magic.Words are powerful.That’s why reading is a self-healing habit.

That’s why the “Chicken soup” series is so popular.

What you put in your reading list is as crucial as what you put in your mouth.

Have you ever used books to help you heal?Share your healing book in the comments below.
Link to the Gutenberg library.
Link to Bibliotherapy  resources.


1)Marrs RW. A meta-analysis of bibliotherapy studies. American Journal of Community Psychology1995;23: 843–70 [PubMed]
2)Cuijpers P. Bibliotherapy in unipolar depression: a meta-analysis.Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 1997;28:139–47 [PubMed]

3)Papworth M. Issues and outcomes associated with adult mental health self-help materials: a ‘second order’ review or ‘qualitative meta-review’.Journal of Mental Health 2006;15:387–409
4)Apodaca TR, Miller WR. A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of bibliotherapy for alcohol problems.Journal of Clinical Psychology2003;59:289–304 [PubMed]

5)Nelson G, Loomis C. Review: self-
Nelson G, Loomis C. Review: self-help
interventions improve anxiety and mood disorders. Evidence-Based Mental Health 2005;8:44. [PubMed]

6)Reeves T, Stace JM. Improving patient access and choice: assisted bibliotherapy for mild to moderate stress/anxiety in primary care.Reeves T, Stace JM. Improving patient access and choice: assisted bibliotherapy for mild to moderate stress/anxiety in primary care.

7)Anderson L, Lewis G, Araya R, et al. Self-help books for depression:
how can practitioners and patients make the right choice? British Journal of General Practice 2005;55:387–92[PMC free article] [PubMed]

8)The introduction of a healthy reading scheme for people with mental health problems: usage and experiences of health professionals and library staff.Roma Robertson, MSc, Steven J Wray, BA RMN CPN (Dip), […], and Rebekah J(Pubmed)


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  1. Please let me know more. Perhaps I will write a book on this subject and use some of your material with your permission and it will also enhance your profile and more will be inspired to hear you talk and give workshops. Where exactly do you live in case I wish to interview you. Best regards
    Prahlad Singh Shekhawat
    Director Alternative Development and Research Centre Jaipur.
    Research Associate at the International Personal Meaning Network in Toronto Canada
    Writer having written several books and a column for a leading English daily Hindustan Times Jaipur edition.
    I was presented with the Star of Asia Award for my written and social work as I help poor slum children with education and health and organise skill development for poor women and older girls.

  2. Though any research is a good thing to happen to mankind but sometimes I feel we (humans) do get into research just for the sake of it and ends with testing the so crafty formed “Hypothesis”.

    In my opinion this is one of that kind of research as this exactly should be the second step of co – ordinated research activities.

    There is another research going on full – scale and that is to understand multi – intelligence” so that people of special needs can be addressed and their mental faculty(s) could be developed to full potential.

    And when we still do not know (this research is a conformation) about human brain (or mental faculty) dosen’t this research sounds as a hurried step or at least non – co ordiated effort.

    No harms if other things would have been normal but when 80% of the world’s population are having problems in meting basic needs, dosen’t this kind of spending sounds criminal.

    At the end of the day “Khoj kar kya paa loge? jab bhookh, garibi aur ladai hi dimaag kharaab kar de to kaisai us health ko improve kar loge” 🙂

    • I agree with you about some of what you say.Significantly theses researches are happening mainly in countries where there already is social security.
      Different societies progress at different pace😊
      But learning to read a.K.a does help in alleviation of poverty.I come from a lower middle class background .Books helped me every step of the way.
      Some of these were academic, some self help and also Reader’s digest😊
      Thanks for such a thoughtful feedback.I appreciate it.