Bibliotherapy, What is it and how can it help?

Bibliotherapy, simply put, is the use of literature to help people deal with their ailments1. Information is emerging on the positive impact it may have on the wellbeing of people living with dementia2

Internationally recognised, bibliotherapy involves the provision of carefully selected and evaluated books (fiction and non-fiction) and poetry2. The practice typically has three streams: self-help bibliotherapy, Books on Prescription schemes, and creative bibliotherapy2. An example of this process is where a facilitator selects a particular text to provide the focus for group discussion and the members are encouraged to share stories relating to the theme discussed. It is up to the group member whether or not to participate. The facilitator is there to offer support, guidance and access to the literature to help people realise emotions and to then express and share1.

Another example is the pleasurable experience of being read to - “The patterns of intonation, rhythm, silence and sounds all create a wave of comfort which caresses an elderly person in a way that possibly only music may also manage to do”2 p8

Read about the UK Abbeyfield Society’s Reading Friends program3. and may this inspire facilities to

'Come, and take choice of all my library, And so beguile thy sorrow … ’4.



2.       McLaine S. 2012. Bibliotherapy: Reading for wellbeing in old age. Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Forum. Melbourne. Retrieved from:


4.       Shakespeare W. Est 1588-1593. Titus Andronicus Act 4 Scene 1 Lines 34-35.  Retrieved from:


KnowledgeAmy Bosnar