Bibliotherapy

  • History and Development of Bibliotherapy

  • Storytelling, creative writing, and reading have long been recognized for their therapeutic potential. The use of literature as a healing method dates back to ancient Greece, when Grecian libraries were seen as sacred places with curative powers.

  • In the early nineteenth century, physicians like Benjamin Rush and Minson Galt II began to use bibliotherapy as an intervention technique in rehabilitation and the treatment of mental health issues.

  • During World Wars I and II, bibliotherapy was used to help returning soldiers deal with both physical and emotional concerns.

  • In a 1916 article published in The Atlantic Monthly, Samuel Carothers defined bibliotherapy as the process of using books to teach those receiving medical care about their conditions, and Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, published in 1941, officially recognized this modality as a form of mental health treatment.

  • Bibliotherapy's use expanded further in the 1950s when Carolyn Shrodes developed a theoretical model based on the premise that people are greatly influenced by the characters they identify with in stories.

  • The American Library Association issued an official definition in 1966, and in 1969, The Association of Poetry Therapy formed, establishing poetry therapy, a form of bibliotherapy, as a treatment modality. In the 1970s, librarian Rhea Rubin classified bibliotherapy into two categories: developmental (for educational settings) and therapeutic (for mental health settings). Her 1978 work, Using Bibliotherapy: A Guide to Theory and Practice, contributed greatly to developments in the field. In 1983, The International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy was established.