When people ask me what bibliotherapy is, my stock, in-a-nutshell answer is this: You talk to me, and I tell you what I think you should read.
There’s obviously more to it than that, and I thought a blog post detailing a BiblioRemedy session would be helpful.
Before you and I meet (or chat on the phone), I send a questionnaire asking about your reading habits and tastes. While this isn’t strictly necessary, I do find that it helps me guide the conversation.
One of the questions on the questionnaire is, “Is there anything preoccupying you at the moment?” and I usually use this as a starting point to go deeper with you, the client. My goal is to coax out your feelings and thoughts about whatever you’re going through, and use that information to tailor the book list I come up with. Not everyone has “stuff,” however, and not everyone wants to get too personal with me. And that is fine too. You tell me as much or as little as you want. You still get 100% from me.
I spend at least 45 minutes listening to you. During this time, I take notes, and sometimes I relate my own experience to what you recount, but really, I’m there to listen. While I’m not a therapist and don’t pretend to be one, I’m a good listener. And whatever you tell me remains within the confines of our session and my notes.
After the session is over, I take some time to reflect on what you’ve said, and when I’m ready, I sit down with my notes and my laptop, and I start compiling a list of books. Sometimes the books come to me as I listen to you, and sometimes more research is required. If I haven’t read a book I plan to recommend, I definitely go deeper with my research. (I wish I could say I’ve read ALL THE BOOKS!, but alas, that’s physically impossible.)
Each session requires between two and three hours of work afterward, between the research and the preparation of the list. The list includes a description of each title, and why I’ve chosen the book for you. I email you this list in PDF form, typically within 48 hours of our session.
If you happen to have read any of the titles on the list, I will offer other titles that also correspond to your situation.
And there you have it! Bibliotherapy is much more than an algorithm or a set list of wonderful books. It’s an art that I’m honored to practice.