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Bibliotherapy: The Therapeutic use of Fiction and Poetry in Mental Health

Allan Peterkin, Smrita Grewal

Abstract


Background: An overview of the way in which bibliotherapy has been defined and implemented historically is provided.

Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of using fiction and poetry as a therapeutic modality in mental health.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted following the elements of the 2009 PRISMA statement.

Results: This literature review demonstrated a lack of empirical studies examining the therapeutic effect of poetry or fiction in a mental health context. However, three studies indicated benefit for patients with symptoms of depression or anxiety, or for those experiencing difficulties coping with a diagnosis of cancer. Bibliotherapy can however be considered to be a promising modality within the growing field of narrative medicine.

Conclusions: The use of poetry or fiction in therapy appears to be beneficial when used in a group context with a skilled facilitator. Larger randomized control trials examining this form of bibliotherapy in a variety of mental health conditions and settings are now required.


Keywords


Bibliotherapy, narrative medicine, poetry, fiction literature, mental health, person centered medicine, person centered psychiatry

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5750/ijpcm.v7i3.648

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