A white woman with thick dark shoulder length hair sits on a white lounge reading a book. She is wearing a burnt orange linen top with light linen pants.

What Is Bibliotherapy?

It’s common for clients to come to their counselling session with a book, poem or article. These readings often reflect their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  What they may not realise is that this is a therapy practice called bibliotherapy.

Bibliotherapy is defined as facilitating healing and psychological growth through reading.  It can be used on its own but is more often integrated into the counselling process.  The most popular texts used in bibliotherapy are fiction and poetry. But any text that that relates to your experiences is fine.  There are two ways bibliotherapy is used in counselling:

  • Prescriptive.  This is when a counsellor prescribes a reading list – often non-fiction or literature – to their client.

  • Creative.  This can involve either the counsellor recommending a book or article. Or a client can bring their own.

Including bibliotherapy into my counselling practice has been a natural process. If it’s appropriate I will suggest a book or article that relates to your life experiences. Or you are welcome to bring your own.  I ask clients to write down any thoughts or feelings that come up while they’re reading. We will then discuss your thoughts about the reading in-session. I also enjoy my clients recommending books to me (although my to-be-read list is getting a bit long!).


Audiobooks are a great alternative to written texts. They can be cheaper, easier to follow along with others, and also give your eyes a break. Not having to hold a book allows people with RSI or living with a disability to access a greater amount of literature. When listening to audiobooks for counselling, I recommend doing so at a time of day that is quiet. You don’t need to be completely still but it’s better to keep your activity low so you don’t miss anything.

Below are a list of books that I have read and found helpful. I’m including both fiction and non-fiction and the themes presented in the book. These aren’t book reviews. I may not recommend books to you from this list but you are free to choose one if it catches your eye.

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Themes: intergenerational trauma, narcissism, domestic violence, recovery.


Eight Dates by John Gottman and Julie Schwarz Gottman

Themes: Relationships