What Is Bibliotherapy? How Books Help Kids

Published on: 2020/12/18


Books, short stories, and storytelling can be a beneficial part of therapy for children with social, emotional, or learning needs. Known as “bibliotherapy” the approach uses books and reading alongside other therapy approaches. 

Therapists sometimes find it can be difficult for children to make sense of issues such as grief, family-related challenges, anxiety, or depression if they don’t have experiences to compare it to. Books can help bridge that gap.

Behavioral Health Services specialists at Comprehensive Rehab use bibliotherapy during counseling and therapy sessions with children. Books and storytelling are often utilized within the play therapy framework.

Stories Help Children Relate To Issues They're Facing

Reading and stories can help children and teens understand the issues they are experiencing. Bibliotherapy also reinforces other therapy treatments, can help normalize experiences with mental health concerns, presents relatable characters and situations, and can foster hope for positive change.

The idea that literature can be used as a healing method dates back to ancient Greece when libraries were seen as places with curative powers. Bibliotherapy was used during both World War I and World War II as a way to help returning soldiers deal with physical and emotional concerns.

Bibliotherapy Used With Play Therapy

At Comprehensive Rehab, therapists use play therapy as the main component of their Behavioral Health Services sessions. During play therapy, trained professionals can assess and understand a child’s play. The positive relationship that develops between the child and therapist serves as a conduit to help children learn how to adapt and cope when there are emotional or social skill deficits.

Utilizing their natural play skills, children are able to express their thoughts and feelings. They can develop better social skills, learn problem-solving techniques, and develop positive decision-making skills

Toys used with therapy may include art materials, costumes, sports equipment, clay, stuffed animals, dolls, or building blocks. In order to express his or her feelings, specific toys are available and the child’s interactions serve symbolically as a child’s “words.” Bibliotherapy, through the use of stories and books, can easily be incorporated into play therapy.

The book or story will relate to the child’s difficulty or situation, allowing him or her to identify with the protagonist in the story. After reading or listening to the story, the Comprehensive Rehab counselor and the child will discuss how the protagonist handled his or her situation. They will also discuss how the book’s solution can be used in the child’s life.

At Comprehensive Rehab, our Behavioral Health Services are geared toward children struggling with any of the following: verbal aggression, physical aggression, property destruction, low self-esteem, poor social skills, poor emotion management, anxiety, depression, grief or loss, trauma, anti-social behavior, familial issues, gender identity, self-harm, and suicidal or homicidal ideations.

For more information about our Behavioral Health Services, or to schedule your child’s evaluation, contact Comprehensive Rehab at (877) 530-6356.