How I Chose Bibliotherapy For My Master’s Thesis

Bibliotherapy - using books in a purposeful way to positively impact mental health - was the subject of my master’s thesis.

I strongly believe the use of literature to promote mental health can positively impact a person’s overall well-being and creativity.

Mental Health and Biblio-Loaded-Word-Therapy

Reading for enjoyment is currently part of my self-care routine more than ever.

Besides being the secret sauce behind the way I write niche songs, I think bibliotherapy is a very underrated (yet obvious) idea leading to creative living, more purposeful reading, mental well-being, and social awareness.  

Most of all, I think it has enormous potential for helping people in an affordable way before mental stressors get out of hand or more intensive interventions are needed.

Discovering Bibliotherapy (When My Mind Exploded)

At age 28, bibliotherapy helped me regain my passion for songwriting after a three-year break. Around this time, I was still performing shows for "the money" (passion killer ALERT).

Check out this girl near a pay phone with very bad lighting at 1:00 in the morning...Oh, that's me?!


Due to a variety of compounding factors, I crashed and burned in my mid-twenties as a songwriter and wanted to quit being a musician.... forever.

However, in an explosion of energy resulting in 30+ surprise songs in about one year, I realized I was haphazardly self-guiding my way through a mysterious process...

(Consider checking out Todd Herman's book The Alter-Ego Effect for more information about breaking out of a writing rut while using story characters, people from history, etc.)

In essence, I was choosing people from history and writing songs "from their point of view" in order to identify with them, tackle a psychological conundrum, and universalize my insights with self-application

It was cathartic, it was far more interesting than writing just as me, it gave me an excuse to research random information around the world, and IT WAS FUN. 

This girl is having a lot more fun.  However, she obviously knows nothing about putting together a Youtube Video.


Coincidentally, I was studying gifted psychology around this same time. I came across the word BIBLIOTHERAPY as a freak accident.

A lightbulb went on.

Oh - That’s What I’m Doing With My Dorky Little Songs

Since I love to read as much as I love to write, it occurred to me I wanted to study bibliotherapy and the creative writing activities that came along with it in a more formal environment.   

(In this case, the formal environment became what my husband called "college from the couch").

My Goals Were Clear

  • I wanted to help other educators and creatives find out about bibliotherapy (even people who would run from the word THERAPY).
  • I wanted to understand what lead me to manically and ecstatically write a ton of music in the midst of a complete career change (with no future intentions for the music).
  • I wanted to understand the natural psychological release engulfing us as we creatively process the stories of others.
  • I wanted to hone in on the process.  Many people (myself included) conduct this style of reflection intuitively.  Why not refine the designated steps and make it more effective in order to improve myself and possibly build a bridge between mental health and storytelling? 

That’s why I studied it, right?  Not so I could write...

Warning: boring sample from my thesis. When asked to describe an apparatus, I really describe an apparatus.

Participants’ MAP reading tests and resulting scores occurred on individual MacBook Pros from mid-2012 with 13-inch monitors. The processor on each of these computers had 2.5 gigahertz with Intel Core i5 processing power. The memory capacity was 4 gigabytes with 1600 megahertz and double data rate type three. The graphic display was Intel highndefinition 4000 with 1536 megabytes…

Back to life.  Back to reality.  Here we go!  I’m so excited!

Additional posts on this blog describe the four-stage process of bibliotherapy in depth.  I also provide a step-by-step example with a current popular finance book.

How about you? How do you choose topics for lengthy and arduous papers?  

How do you maintain your passion for the subject throughout the class (and long after fulfilling the external expectations of others)?  I’d love to know!


5 Replies to “How I Chose Bibliotherapy For My Master’s Thesis”

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing future updates on this topic! My wife is a middle school English teacher who has a strong passion for reading. I’m going to share this with her to get her thoughts. She’d probably agree that books can absolutely help with mental health if they catch you at the right time.

  2. Awesome! Thanks for checking out this post. I hope she finds the future posts helpful too. My next post will explain the four-step process inherent in the practice, how it is used in small group settings, and the history of such an obvious idea. Thanks again!

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