In this time of political unrest, the pandemic, the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, and the economic hardships resulting from job losses due to COVID, more people than ever are dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety and those with other mental health concerns may find that those concerns have become an even greater challenge or burden. Mental health services are overwhelmed and stretched to breaking. If you have tried to schedule a session with a therapist, you likely have been told it will be several weeks at a minimum before you can be seen. In light of this, I wanted to share information about England’s Books on Prescription program.
In England, doctors actually prescribe bibliotherapy, therapy in the form of a book. The book which launched bibliotherapy was Dr. David Burns’ book Feeling Good. It’s a book I have recommended many, many times to my own clients dealing with depression. This was the first book that I’m aware of to be tested for efficacy. A control group was given Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning to see what results they might get from the book. Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist and developer of a type of therapy known as logotherapy. The study found that something like 80% of people who read Feeling Good got benefit and had decreased depression or depression in remission. Frankl’s book did not have this effect. Since then, the therapeutic effectiveness of Feeling Good has been replicated in many studies. I’ve seen it take extreme, treatment-resistant depression to low moderate depression in just 10 weeks. Of course, to get real and lasting benefit from this book or any other therapeutic book, the reader must be more than a passive consumer of the material. Active application of the material to one’s life is what makes the difference.
At the Books on Prescription website, you will find books organized into five categories: children, mental health, young people’s mental health, long term conditions, and dementia. The books listed are books that doctors there prescribe to patients as appropriate. If you are on a waiting list to see a therapist or if the cost of therapy is beyond you at this time, consider looking at the Books on Prescription books to see if one of them might be helpful to you. It’s likely your local library would be able to help you read it for free.
As always, I invite you to reach out to me if you are considering starting counseling to see if you and I might be a good fit. Call or text (816) 226-4678.