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The idea that the arts can benefit the emotional well-being of the observer, creator or reader has been around at least since Aristotle proposed the notion of emotional catharsis. Freud, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, acknowledged his intellectual debt to creative artists, suggesting that they, not he, had first discovered the unconscious (cited in Shrodes, 1950, p. 2). Certainly creative artists have become visible and valuable participants in the therapeutic milieu over the last century in the United States (Junge, 1994). Freud further suggested that, in the therapeutic process, “Storytellers are valuable allies and their testimony is to be rated high, for they usually know many things between heaven and earth that are not yet dreamt of in our philosophy” (Freud, 1956, p. 27). Storytellers have also asserted their place in the ranks of therapists (e.g., Healing Story Alliance at Unlike art, dance and music therapies, the use of literature in therapy, although currently in widespread use, has not really established itself as a legitimate focus of therapy training or accreditation. Our development of a tool to systematically evaluate literature for therapeutic use and the incorporation of our tool into a teaching module for graduate counseling students attempt to address this deficit.


Bibliotherapy; Book evaluation; Book selection; Counseling


Mental and Social Health


DOI: 10.1016/j.aip.2004.11.001

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