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NerdyKeith's avatar

Do psychologists recognise reading as a healthy form of therapy?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) March 23rd, 2016

Sometimes when I’m feeling sad or depressed, I read. And I have to say it really does help. By the way I don’t suffer from depression, but like most people I have my bad days every once and a while.

I find that fantasy and fiction novels help a lot, they are almost a healthy escape from reality, while still holding on to a realistic concept of reality at the same time.

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9 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

I had a therapist who heartily endorsed my habit of rereading “comfort” books. She believed it was an excellent way to break bad-thought cycles, she especially liked my choices, sci-fi and fantasy, because there weren’t situational triggers. Almost anything by Larry Niven is my go-to.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@canidmajor Thats really awesome

zenvelo's avatar

Not as therapy, per se, but as a constructive behavior yes.

Therapy is all about dealing with issues in a healthy manner, processing the feelings that have not been fully dealt with in a manner that maintains the dignity of the client. Reading is a form of escape from dealing with issues, even reading self help books is a form of escape.

There is nothing at all wrong or negative with a bit of escape from day to day life.It isn’t therapy though.

canidmajor's avatar

@zenvelo: I respectfully disagree that “it isn’t therapy” when it’s recommended as a method of positively altering a thought pattern.
And I think that’s probably the most nit-picky thing I’ve ever said on Fluther. Sorry… ;-)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Doctors know that quiet reading lowers blood pressure. I collected a bunch of books once and seeded a reading library on a cardiac unit in Orlando. The idea was very well received by staff and the patients were grateful for a diversion other than TV.

Seek's avatar

@canidmajor I think we can skip the court-martial this time.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

While reading may have many therapeutic benefits, it is not therapy. In therapy, I am actively engaged in exploring what makes me work the way I do. That’s not happening when I’m reading. If the book is good enough, I’m lost in another world when I read. I’m not thinking about myself at all.

Jeruba's avatar

Perhaps there’s a useful distinction to be made between something that’s therapeutic, such as taking a walk, playing with the dog, or reading a book, and something that’s clinically defined as therapy.

Wouldn’t it be all right to restate the question as “Do psychologists recognise reading as a healthy, beneficial activity?” It seems to me that the point is to ask whether psychologists acknowledge the benefits of reading and not whether it fits a technical definition of therapy.

Stinley's avatar

There is a movement in libraries called bibliotherapy. It is both reading fiction to de-stress and break away from your troubles. It also covers reading self help books. There is a little evidence that it helps mild depression. I worked in a public library where we ran the scheme with local GPs referring people to us

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