Examples of Bibliotherapy

Here is but a sample of projects of bibliotherapy practices in a wide range of settings in various parts of the world. Where contact information or sources are known, they are added. More important to the toolkit user is the inspiration that can be found by awareness of the vitality and breadth of bibliotherapy being done across the globe.

Seven Doctors Project – University of Nebraska Medical Center

Seven doctors are paired with a local writer who serves as his/her mentor and guide. Through literature and the lyric poem, one hears the “inner voice”. Go to: http://medhum.med.nyu.edu/blog/?p=150

Narrative Medicine – first coined by Rita Charon at Columbia University.

Medical practitioners are urged to not only keep a medical record but also to capture a patient’s story for inclusion in the medical record see Narrative Medicine (2006) by Charon.

Children’s Psychological Well-being – Portuguese schools project

This uses bibliotherapy to help children cope with changes or emotional and mental health issues. Psychologists and educators work together to find short stories, poems and books that match with a child’s needs. See “Bibliotherapy: A tool to promote children’s psychological well-being” by Lucas and Soares in Journal of Poetry Therapy, vol.26, no.3, 2013

Annie Stories – Doris Brett

A storytelling method developed by Australian motherand psychologist, Doris Brett, in response to the developmental fears of her daughter. The stories told are similar stories to fears, but in which resiliency is found and shown. See Annie Stories (1988) by Doris Brett.

Poem Pal – poems in hospital

The collection is placed in patient rooms and other areas as part of Grampian Hospital’s Poem Post Project. Contact Colin Macduff at Robert Gordon University

Lombardi Cancer Center, Washington, DC

In the chemo therapy center a bibliotherapist tells everyone receiving chemo that morning that she will be leading a writing group at a certain time: come and join me. Patients do, rolling their chemotherapy bags with them.

The Caregiver’s Tale: Loss and Renewal in Memoirs of Family Life by Ann Burack-Weiss (2006)

What started out to be a “professional” book about the stress of caregiving morphed into a volume using memoirs written by caregivers because the quantitative research that dominated the field did not do justice to the complexities and emotional weight of the reality.

Poetry in Prison

See Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin (2000) by Judith Tannenbaum. For four years, Tannenbaum was poet-in-residence at San Quentin.

John Killick

Killick’s work with persons living with dementia is widely used. See his many books of using writing, story-telling and other methods with those living with dementia, including Creativity and Communication in Persons With Dementia (2011). See also John’s piece in the Contributor section of the toolkit.

Divorce and children

Broken Hearts…Healing: Young People Speak Out on Divorce (2001) is an evocative book of poems edited by educator Tom Worthen.

Writing for the Bereaved

An Australian study that showed self-care practices were reinforced or improved in a writing program. See the Journal Of Palliative Medicine 6, 2, 2003 “Writing Therapy for the Bereaved: Evaluation of an Intervention” by O’Connor, Nikoletti, Kristjanson, Loh, and, Willcock.

Domestic Abuse

See A Way With Words: Poems, Stories and Artwork from Women Who Have Lived With and Left Abusers (2010) edited by Lesley O’Brien, Alison Ryan and Kate Arnot. Published by Scottish Women’s Aid. The title describes the project. See also O’Brien’s piece in the Contributor section of the toolkit.

Urban ministry soup kitchen

A writing group was started in a soup kitchen (for homeless people) in Charlotte, North Carolina. The result was Waiting for Soup (2004).

Integrative Medicine Packet

Download the packet that details how poetry therapy is used with various populations. Go to www.poetrytherapy.org (The National Association for Poetry Therapy).


If you know of other example of Bibliotherapy please send us a reference along with a few words describing the practice.