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 project in schools,

using 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 – a story telling method developed by Australian mother

and 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 – A collection of poems 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 – a bibliotherapist announces

in the chemo therapy center to all 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 (2006)

by Ann Burack-Weiss. 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’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. Creativity and Communication in Persons With Dementia (2011). see also John’s piece in the Contributor section of the toolkit.

Broken hearts…healing – divorce and children. An evocative book of

poems collected by educator Tom Worthen. See Broken Hearts…Healing: Young People Speak Out on Divorce (2001) edited by 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.

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.

Writing from an urban ministry soup kitchen – a writing group was

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

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.