Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sample Bibliotherapy Session

Excerpted and edited from
How Literature Saved My Psyche: Attending a Book-Themed Therapy Session at the Center for Fiction
By M. H. Miller |

Just what the doctor ordered!

The Center for Fiction—a nonprofit that holds readings and events, gives writers office space and promotes the general celebration of literature—called A Novel Approach, in which writers and editors involved with the center (“bibliotherapists”) will give you a 45-minute consultation dealing with the life crisis of your choice and prescribe a year’s worth of reading to help you get through it.

Center’s offices in the old Mercantile Library on East 47th Street, Noreen Tomassi, director since 2004.

“WHY DO YOU WANT to come and explore whatever you need to explore in your life through books?”

“Is there a particular issue that you’d like to address in your reading that we prescribe for you?”

“Is there a book that has really made a huge difference in your life?”

“Are there writers right now that you  just absolutely hate or feel like they’re overrated?”

Where are the gaps in your reading in your opinion? (Need more of?)

“A couple either/or questions,” “Answer these off the top of your head: Tolstoy or Dostoevsky?”

“Brontës: Emily or Charlotte?”

“Do you have a story that you think is the perfect short story?"

“You have a few writers over for dinner. Who’s there, living or dead? Pick six, including you.”

gaps in your reading,
problem you want to address,
your history as a reader,
what you’re attracted to in writing.

Therapist taks about a week to two weeks, and does a list, consulting with a group of people who are connected to the program--writers, editors--then makes a prescription.

My (journalist's) prescription: “Five classics, one big unwieldy post-modernist, one book about love, money and friendship, two non-fiction selections, two contemporary novels, and a dash of genre fiction. No more than one per month, client to be shaken and stirred.”