Joy Roulier Sawyer. Paris, 2013


So what's bibliotherapy?

Quite simply, it's the use of literature--poetry, film, fiction, memoir, essays, and more--to promote cultural understanding and mental health. Bibliotherapy can also include poetry therapy, journal therapy, biblio/​poetry therapy, and expressive writing therapy.

Quality literature, often paired with creative writing prompts, is used in a variety of both community and clinical settings.

Joy's longtime work in the bibliotherapeutic field included teaching, training, and supervising poets & writers, educators, and professional therapists how to bring life-giving poetry, stories, and creative writing to many communities, including:

homeless & battered women's shelters; at-risk youth; prisons; schools & universities; addiction & eating disorder recovery groups; spiritual direction; churches & synagogues; senior centers; book discussions; counseling private practice; and more.

As part of this work, she co-taught writing & healing classes for more than a decade in the masters of liberal studies program at the University of Denver.

Joy was selected by bibliotherapy pioneers to update and revise the third edition of one of the standard academic texts in the field, Biblio/​Poetry Therapy--The Interactive Process: A Handbook by Arleen McCarty Hynes and Mary Hynes-Berry (North Star Press, 2012).

She received the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association for Poetry Therapy.

Selected Works

Poetry Book
"Blends the verbal alacrity and formal complexity of Gerard Manley Hopkins with the ironic verve and cultural awareness of Allen Ginsberg." --Paul J. Willis, former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate
Poetry Therapy Textbook
Revised and updated the third edition of the classic academic textbook by Arleen McCarty Hynes and Mary Hynes-Berry (North Star Press, 2012).
Nonfiction Books
"A rich and enriching book, a gift of both poetry and faith" --Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties

Poetry Links