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Utilising books in therapy

Bibliotherapy is the term given to a form of treatment in which books are used in therapy. Launched by the NHS in the UK, the scheme is aimed at tackling mental health issues such as depression.

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Books are being prescribed by the NHS as a form of self-help therapy

GPs and other health professionals have been provided with a list of self-help books chosen by specialists in different fields. GPs use this list to make a “book recommendation” to a patient in need. The patient can then take this recommendation to any library and has access to the book for a period of time suggested by the GP.

The NHS says: “Many of the most effective books present self-help versions if the kind of therapy that would be given by a professional. In many cases they present complete step-by-step treatment programmes with exercises, self-assessments and diary sheets.

“A self-help book can be used in addition to any medication that has been prescribed, or while the patient is waiting to see a councillor or mental health specialist.”

Many of the most effective books present self-help versions if the kind of therapy that would be given by a professional

A study by the University of Oxford found that bibliotherapy had a small to moderate effect on internalised, externalised, and prosocial behaviours. The study supported the theory that creative bibliotherapy interventions can work alongside Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) effectively.

Findings from the University of Alabama also revealed that there was a reduction in depressive symptoms for older adults who underwent CBT with the combined use of bibliotherapy.

As well as self-help books prescribed by the NHS, publications such as Good Housekeeping and digital publication Stylist, have published lists of uplifting and motivational publications and poems for anyone who would like to use the scheme to access.

With Nielsen BookScan revealing a total of 190.9m books sold last year in the UK – a 2.1% rise since 2017, it seems the popularity of reading is only set to continue to rise.

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter.

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