Books have always been one of my favorite ways to escape reality for a moment. Turn a book into a movie & I can get fully immersed in the experience for at least 2 hours. It wasn't until I started delving into understanding my own trauma & then deciding that I definitely wanted to help others with theirs that I experienced what I now know to be bibliotherapy. I'm going to talk about my experience with it & how I think you should in corporate this into your recovery toolbox.
Goodtherapy.com defines bibliotherapy as a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health & is a versatile & cost-effective treatment option often adapted or used to supplement other types of therapy. So what this mean to us? It means that within the pages of books we can find ways to cope with and heal from adversities in our lives. As a matter of fact, I would say that for me, books have been a major component in my healing when I couldn't afford therapy 3 times a week like I needed.
Ok...How Does This Work?
Let's go with a real life example from my life. I am pretty sure most people who are doing work within the realm of trauma recovery have heard of the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk MD. In this book (which is not a self help book for those who are wanting to read it, I'll come back to this later) he talks about the effects that combat related trauma has on veterans within their bodies. One story in particular about a veteran who was experiencing cancer in his shoulder connected to his shooting a rifle & the kickback associated with it in the very same shoulder. He had trauma & unexpressed emotions from this trauma stored in his physical body causing this disruption of energy leading to his physical ailment.
Isn't that astounding? How our bodies keep track of our emotional states in such a visceral way is amazing. This unlocked a part of my understanding of my own chronic pain. I have felt emotionally unsupported for years. I have developed very painful trigger points in my upper back as the result of this. Upper back pain represents a lack of emotional support as referenced by Louise Hay in her book, You Can Heal Your Life. Once I was able to read about these real, concrete examples of how important your trauma & emotions are as it pertains to physical well-being I was able to work through the mental blocks I had as a result & take the necessary steps to do body work to heal.
Another example comes from Pete Walker's book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. His work with emotional flashbacks was the pivotal experience I had within the pages of his book. I didn't understand what these long periods of being back in the emotions I had when I was 9 years old were until I read this book. It helped me realize that nothing was wrong with me & again set me on a path to do the healing work I needed to be free. That is how bibliotherapy works.
What Does This Mean For You?
Simply put, if you cannot afford therapy or a coach right now, you can still receive help. I specifically started recommending books & writing blog posts for this reason. I want to help you find those books & resources that can help you until you are able to access professionals who can help you. I want to note that there are some things that a book is not going to help with like needing medications & psychiatric care. Remember, safety first, if you feel you need these things there are resources & I wrote a post that outlines some of these resources please read it here.
Building up your toolkit of resources to help you to stand in life's
trials in very important. My goal as a survivor is to give myself what I need to be able to weather any storm that comes my way because I know that storms are coming. They are a part of life & always will be. I take heart in the fact that I have came out of the gale force winds of life a better person each time. You can do the same.
As a coach, I seek to give you an arsenal to face your own battles with courage & conviction. I lay out the tools from my kit before you so that you can choose what to place in yours. You do not have to choose every one of them. Some you may be able to use & others you may not. It is your choice as to which benefits you. Some you will have to practice wielding, others will come like second nature to you & bring immediate relief. Either way, I hope that you find something to help you endure while you walk the journey back to yourself.
The Wrap Up
So, I hope I gave you an understanding of the useful tool of books & bibliotherapy along your journey. Guess what comes next? My recommendation of 3 books & 3 apps that I think will help you. Some of these suggestions will be affiliate links so I want to make you aware of them before I make mention of them (books are affiliate links, one app is sponsored, the other was a paid for subscription, one app is free). I also want to let you know that my book club begins this weekend, February 6, 2022 at 10am CST. Since I know how much bibliotherapy has helped me, I wanted to provide a safe space for us all to experience it together. It is just $10 to join & I will use a portion of the payments received to supply books to those who cannot afford them. If you would like to join please sign up here. Here are my recommendations:
Youper App- As of this post, this is a free app that I have personally used to help me work through emotional states, cognitive distortions, & other issues I have. It uses AI to learn you & help provide suggestions to help you grow toward your goals. It also has assessments for depression, anxiety, social anxiety, & much more to help you keep track of your mental health. I highly recommend it & this is not an sponsored recommendation. Give it a try.
Nuna Companion App- Nuna is similar to Youper but in my opinion is a bit limited in the types of dialog you can carry on with the AI Alpaca that is Nuna. You can visit my Instagram to see my review of the app. You can try it out with a 25% discount using my discount code here.
Self Pause App- I have struggled with the toxic positivity & spiritual bypassing community capitalizing off of affirmations & their inappropriate use. I believe lots of harm has been done to those who can't use affirmations to magically pop out of trauma. However, I have used affirmations when appropriate as a part of my toolkit & this particular app I use daily. I was given access to a premium subscription to test this one. It has tons of affirmations to fit any situation & you can record your own. Get it in the app store or google play.
The Body Keeps the Score- So remember I promised to talk about this not being a self help book? Let me tell you why. This book was written by a medical doctor & is written from a clinical perspective. It does not give practical advice on how to overcome these issues, it presents the case for why this is so important to trauma survivors & medical professionals. If you go into reading it with this perspective, I think it will help you not be disappointed. Find it here.
You Can Heal Your Life- This was one of the first books I read that helped me understand the emotion/thought/body connection. It's basically an index of physical ailments, the connected emotion, & an affirmation to heal it. It's a great reference tool find it here.
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving- One of the most pivotal books in my recovery from Complex Trauma & the resulting PTSD. I highly recommend it not only if you have this diagnosis but to also help with healing your terrible inner critic & placing blame back onto your abusers where it belongs. Get it here.
Well that does it for this post. If you decide to try any of these, I'd like to hear your experiences. Email me, use my contact form, or DM on Instagram to get the conversation started. Until next time take care of yourselves please & have a good enough day!