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     The Power of Books in Child & Family Therapy

    February 9, 2018

    Have you typed into Google "child therapist NYC" and wondered how to find the right one?  It can be an overwhelming process to find a therapist for your child. Knowledge is power, so knowing a little bit about how therapists work with children can be very helpful in starting a therapy process for your child. For that reason, our very-own NYC child and family therapist Alison Pepper, LCSW, describes one effective technique: bibliotherapy (the use of books in psychotherapy) to help kids problem solve, grow emotionally and create a positive self-image.

    Over the years I have enjoyed using a wide variety of creative modalities and books in my therapy practice with children and families. Bibliotherapy is defined as an expressive therapy that includes stories, books, and poetry in the healing process. Through books, emotional experiences, self-image and challenging life experiences can be explored to help children identify externally, with what is happening internally for them, in their families or school-life.  As a result allows them to create a cognitive framework and also feel understood.


    Children and families especially respond well to this approach because book reading is a familiar part of their experience and it creates a safe and familiar space for kids immediately. It also provide an easier way to discuss more stigmatizing subjects like bullying, divorce, anxiety symptoms, death of a loved one, and moving homes, to name a few. Books and characters who are experiencing something we might be experiencing can be normalizing and validating especially for a child who might feel isolated and afraid about their new or challenging experience. 

    Top Therapy Books in Mindful Parenting

    Here are my top therapy books to read with kids and families about feelings, life issues, mental health symptoms, mindful parenting and mindfulness:           

    • bibliotherapy-books-for-kids-704919-edited.pngWhat Dose it Mean to be Present by Rana DiOrio. ("This book demonstrates practical ways to practice being present. Bright illustrations and lyrical text concisely and delightfully deliver the message of the importance of now." --The Children's Book Review)
    • My Daddy is in Jail by Janet M Bender. (Provides resources --including stories, small group counseling activities, and a discussion guide--for helping children cope with the incarceration of a parent or loved one.)               
    • How to Take the GRRRR Out of Anger by Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovskis. (This book teaches kids how to recognize anger in themselves and others, how to handle situations and emotions (loneliness, guilt, frustration, fear) that lead to or mask anger, and how to deal with the anger they feel.)
    • What To Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D.  (An interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalized anxiety.)
    • A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes. (After Sherman, the main character in the book, sees something terrible happen, he becomes anxious and then angry, but when a counselor helps him talk about these emotions he feels better. This is a great book to use with children especially those who have experienced trauma or stressful experiences.)   

    More Resources

    See this website, Books Dealing With Children’s Mental Health Issues, to read reviews and search books for specific conditions such as ADHD, Divorce, Autism, Learning Disabilities and Social Skills.  More Bibliotherapy Resources can also be found here 

    Have other resources for bibliotherapy? Please leave a comment below. And if you want to know more about bibliotherapy, play therapy, mindful parenting or family therapy in our NYC therapy office please get in touch!

    Schedule a Session with Alison

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    About the Author 

    Alison Pepper, LCSW is a licensed NYC mindfulness-based therapist and Certified NeurOptimal neurofeedback trainer working with families and children dealing with mental health issues; with an emphasis on trauma informed work.  She's a bilingual therapist for over five years (fluent in both English and Spanish), SIFI certified, and a meditation teacher. 

    Read more articles by Alison: Identifying Anxiety Vs. ADHD in Children




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