Renaissance Ranch


Bibliotherapy is an expressive therapy that uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. Bibliotherapy is often combined with writing therapy. The basic concept behind bibliotherapy is that reading and writing are healing experiences. We have found it to also be effective in addiction treatment.


History of Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy is a concept that has been around for many centuries. In fact, what is considered the oldest known library motto in the world, a phrase inscribed above the entrance to the royal chamber where books were stored by King Ramses II of Egypt, read, “House of Healing for the soul.” It is a form of expressive therapy that centers around an individual’s relationship with written words such as books as poetry, and it is often combined with writing therapy. It has even been shown to treat depression. 

So, how might it help someone struggling from addiction overcome addiction and other coinciding mental struggles such as depression? While programs centered around bibliotherapy exist to help people cope with mental struggles with professional help, in terms of recovery, you can consider it a meaningful addition that you yourself can bring to what you are already doing in your recovery.

Why Use Bibliotherapy

Arm Yourself with Knowledge

Education-centered reading can be a significant part of bibliotherapy, especially those who are recovering from addiction, as it arms you with the knowledge you need to successfully overcome obstacles. A comprehensive addiction recovery program will work with you to arm you with the knowledge needed to understand your addiction, identify triggers, and heal past wounds. Getting online and connecting with others, reading about their experiences, can also strengthen your recovery.

Find Guidance in Your Written Resources

For a recovering addict following the 12-step model, having a reliable guide to the recovery process always on hand can help to solidify the recovery process in the mind. The materials you receive in your recovery program will help to keep you on track and remind you of the tools and techniques you have at your disposal during your recovery.

Practice Writing Therapy

Many practice bibliotherapy in combination with writing therapy, which centers around writing and using the written word as a form of therapy. There are many structured forms of writing therapy that involves working with therapists, but for your own addiction recovery, this could mean keeping a journal to record meaningful thoughts, explore deeper feelings, and track your thought patterns. Writing your feelings out can help put an end to repeating troubling thoughts that are swimming in your mind, allowing you to focus on more positive things–the progress you have made in recovery, for example. Some recovering addicts might even find strength in writing poetry, another form of writing therapy. Poetry can help those who have had traumatic experiences or undergone significant mental struggles externalize their battles and give shape to them.

Suggested Reading List

Author: John Bradshaw

Author: Charles Whitfield

Author: Melodie Beattie

Author: Rick Hawkes

  • Hold on to Hope

Author: Colleen Harrison

Author: Unknown, Alanon Literature

Author: Tad Callister

Author: Edited by Anne L. Horton, B. Kent Harrison, and Barry L. Johnson

  • Confronting Abuse (This title is unfortunately out of print. Check your local library or for used copies.)