Did you know that reading is a form of therapy? Formally called bibliotherapy, the use of books and literature -- alongside other treatment methods -- is a great way to support your mental health. It can help broaden perspectives and to shed light on your past and symptoms, allowing for greater understanding of the underlying thought processes that we work so hard to change in talk therapy or CBT. It also is a great way to boost self-esteem, empathy, contentment, and more.
Bibliotherapy has two forms. Developmental Bibliotherapy is "used in the community or educational setting, to help children or adults address common life issues." Clinical Bibliotherapy is "the use of books in a professional therapy context to treat a diagnosed emotional disorder or ameliorate the negative life impact of a diagnosed...disorder." You can even get a jump start on the reading by looking up the world ameliorate, which I most certainly did as well.
But I don't know where to start! Starting this month, we'll be releasing a Mental Health Bookshelf with some picks to inspire you - and don't worry, they're not all clinical texts filled with words like ameliorate. We'll include something for everyone, whether what you need is an educational text or something a little more relaxing.
Does it need to be a metal health text? Not at all! While the use of texts specifically concerning mental health matters can certainly be helpful, narrative fiction, poetry, and short stories are all helpful as well. Reading about the struggles and triumphs of a fictional character can help us work through our real-life journey, as can poetry that touches us deeply (Amanda Gorman, anybody?). The conceptual nature of bibliotherapy is one that many of us have been practicing for years - the encouragement and joy found in reading leads us to reach for the same book over and over knowing that it will raise our spirits.
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve
by Rheeda Walker, PhD
Dr. Rheeda Walker's insightful resource addresses one of the key issues of social and mental health injustice that we should all care about. Her book explores Black mental health from all angles: the roots of it, changes that need to be made in order to combat it, how to fight against stigma, identifying potential mental illness, emotional wellness, how to get care in a racially biased system, and more.
There Is No Right Way to Meditate: And Other Lessons
by Yumi Sakugawa
Artist Yumi Sakugawa's beautiful work combines illustrations and short, inspirational messages. Her unique point of view is sure to offer some mindfulness takeaways. This is one to look into if you feel yourself needing an added dose of inner peace.
Changing Minds: The go-to Guide to Mental Health for You, Family and Friends
by Dr. Mark Cross and Dr. Catharine Hanrahan
This useful guide by Dr. Mark Cross and Dr. Catharine Hanrahan is a wonderful introductory resource that speaks clearly and without pretense about mental health challenges. Covering a wide range of issues from bipolar to schizophrenia, this text offers practical advice on how to deal with those issues as well as where to get help.
And there you have our first Mental Health Bookshelf! We'll be back again in February with another couple picks. In the meantime, please let us know if you read any of these titles helpful or if you're reading anything else that's been helpful on your mental health journey. Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Here's to a restful one - maybe pick up a book instead of your phone for a couple hours and see how it goes.
1. Schwanenflugel, Paula J, and Nancy Flanagan Knapp. “Bibliotherapy: Using Books to Help and Heal.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 1 Oct. 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-minds/201910/bibliotherapy-using-books-help-and-heal.