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This guide offers background information and resources on bibliotherapy, i. e., guided reading for Rutgers students, faculty, and staff.

Tips to Use this Guide

This guide provides diverse texts to read, listed in the tabs on the left, and tips how to reflect on the readings. Find a text of interest under one of the tabs. Each box contains a brief description and why to read the story, poem, or book, a link to the full text, and a link to find more content of interest, including discussion questions and talking points, the author’s background and other works, and more in related guides and blog posts created by the Books We Read team.

DISCLAIMER: Although bibliotherapy works well as complementary treatment, please contact your healthcare professional if you are experiencing physical or mental health issues. Rutgers students are advised to reach out to Medical & Counseling Services at Student Health.

About Bibliotherapy

In its modern application, bibliotherapy is used as a complementary method to treat a variety of disorders, including insomnia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction, and it shows promise for use by both children and adults. There is great variety in how bibliotherapy is performed, with some readers working directly under the supervision of their doctor or counselor and others choosing to pursue an entirely self-directed course of treatment. 

Bibliotherapy refers to the use of books from a list created under the guidance of a subject expert in order to address a therapeutic need.  Although the practice has received growing attention in recent years, the term bibliotherapy itself was first coined a century ago, and the underlying belief that books can provide healing benefits to readers is one that dates all the way back to antiquity.

Although not licensed therapists, librarians often find themselves in the role of the "accidental bibliotherapist," when provide book recommendations and readers advisory to a patron, or as they run book discussions either in the library or in an online setting.

Note: The phrase “accidental bibliotherapist” was first used by Liz Brewster in Brewster, L. (2009). Reader Development and Mental Wellbeing: The Accidental Bibliotherapist. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 22(1), 13–16.

Books on Bibliotherapy

Contact Information

This guide was created by Judit H. Ward, science reference and instruction librarian, and program director of Books We Read, and Nicholas Allred, graduate specialist, PhD candidate at the English Department. 


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