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The Research

 In the beginning

​We began our project in 1999 with a review of the recent literature, focused on mental health practitioners and school age populations. The results of this review, in conjunction with clinical practice experience, were the basis for the development of a paper and pencil instrument for evaluating books. We started with several categories such as structure of the work, quality of the illustrations, thematic content and also asked evaluators to consider how they might use the material in therapeutic settings. Graduate students in counseling were asked for feedback as they used the tool to evaluate books, and we made several revisions to the paper and pencil format over the next 4 years.

  • In 2003, we successfully applied for our first small teaching improvement grant which initiated the move of the evaluation tool and related resources to the World Wide Web.
  • In 2007, we received a grant to research professional counselor's use of bibliotherapy.
  • ​In 2008, the research was conducted through cooperation of the American Counseling Association.

 Project History

In 2010, Longchun Hu (known also as Angela) was our visiting scholar, she studied with faculty members from the UNLV Libraries and the College of Education, Department of Counselor Education and Curriculum and Instruction. Ms. Hu came from Shanghai Maritime University and was in residence in the USA from January through July, 2010. Ms. Hu, a Lecturer of College English spent six months investigating various uses of children's and other fictional literature for application in the classroom. Her goals were to learn to use developmental bibliotherapy to help young college students deal with normal transitional and developmental challenges of university life. As a result of Ms. Hu's studies, she developed a thematic analysis of the issues that most university students deal with as they move away from home to living on campus. She found materials and books that related to these themes and then she developed bibliotherapy lesson plans to assist teachers and lecturers who work with college level students. Look for Ms. Hu's work under the Resources for Books section.

Conference presentations at both Counseling and Library related professional conferences (local, state, regional, national and international). We use these as opportunities to educate participants about the benefits of Bibliotherapy and the importance of informed use. We also solicit ongoing feedback about the Project web site and the Bibliotherapy Evaluation Tool.

Professional development: Drs. Pehrsson and McMillen have both attended Mock Caldecott workshops to learn more about children's picture books (this is the major picture book award given by the American Library Association each year). Dr. Pehrsson has attended a 5-day children's/YA writers' and illustrators' conference. Dr. McMillen has done graduate-level coursework in Children's and Young Adult Literature through Portland State University.

Graduate counseling student assessment: Student knowledge of and comfort with using Bibliotherapy were tested before and after exposure to a teaching module in the Theories and Techniques of Counseling class in Winter 2004. There was significant improvement in all areas and the results were reported in Arts in Psychotherapy, 2005, v.32 (1), 47-59. (preprint available here)

Bibliolinking: Based on the Bibliotherapy Education Project ©, Kate Smith has conducted a year long research project and successfully defended her 2005 Senior thesis on "Biblio-Linking and Residential Life"

Bibliosupervision: Mary Gauntz, a Ph.D. counseling student, is developing a supervision model and protocols for working with therapists who want to use books in their therapy

Ongoing teaching and curriculum refinement: The education of counslers in using Bibliotherapy offers opportunities for continuous feedback on the web site and evaluation tool.

Usability study: The Bibliotherapy team completed an initial usability study in spring 2007; the results of that study have been used to initiate improvements in content, workflow and graphics. Publications on the process and outcomes are forthcoming.

Consultation: We provide ongoing consultation with practicing professionals who are interested in or currently using books in therapy

Protocol Development: The creation and refinement of specific protocols for clinicians and librarians (in process) Contact Dale Pehrsson for more information (​

 Future Projects

Continue to review the literature to stay current with developments in the practice of Bibliotherapy

Continue to refine the electronic version of the database with user feedback from graduate students and external users

Expand our investigations into the use of story telling and books in other specific diagnostic groups and clinical situations (e.g., suicide prevention, ADHD, etc.)

Develop guidelines for non-clinical helpers who want to use the evaluation tool (e.g., teachers, librarians)


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