Bibliotherapy for an inner journey during quarantine 

Bibliotherapy during quarantine


If you can’t go outside…go inside!

What better occasion than quarantine to use our precious time for a little (or not so little) reflection on ourselves, new awareness and personal growth? I believe bibliotherapy is a useful tool in my work, as I often recommend some reads to my patients as support to their psychotherapy. 

Here are some interesting reads to start your inner journey, as they may inspire the changes you were longing for by shedding light on mental functioning.

The courage to be disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

An imaginary conversation between a wise philosopher and a young adult on how to achieve freedom from our mental schemas and increase our happiness, through the lenses of Adlerian psychology. 

A good prompt for reflection on the desire to be accepted and recognised by others, self-confidence and how sometimes we can be the very saboteur to our own happiness.

Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman explains why emotional intelligence can actually be much more useful than IQ. 

Emotional intelligence implies the ability to read our and other people’s emotions in order to understand them and use this information as a guide to behaviour and thinking. This emotional muscle is indeed one of the keys to success in interpersonal relationships, both in our private life and the workplace.

The choice by Edith Eger

Dr Edith Eger shares her personal story as a survivor of concentration camps in the Second World War, delving into her struggle healing from trauma and the path to becoming a psychologist to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. An inspiring and heart-touching story delivering an important life lesson: even in the worst possible situation, we can always choose our thoughts and attitude and change the way we perceive reality. 

 The power of now by Eckhart Tolle 

When approaching the concept of mindfulness, being and living in the present moment exerts the ability to stay in the here-and-now, while observing from a detached and non-judgmental point of view what’s going on inside us.

Eckhart Tolle outlines the power of Now, a concept deeply embedded in Eastern philosophies, yet still so foreign and little-known in Western societies. 

Come as you are by Emily Nagoski

Dr Nagoski takes us on a journey into women’s sexuality, debunking false beliefs (and believe me ladies, there are plenty!), as well as inspiring a reflection on what are the brake and accelerator factors in our sexual life. An excellent read to get to know yourself better, understanding how culture, early experiences and stress impact on sexuality by learning that we are all normal, made of the same parts but organised in different ways.

Overcoming low self-esteem by Melanie Fennell

If self-confidence is your Achilles’ heel, this self-help book is for you! 

Melanie Fennell explains how self-esteem develops across the lifespan, starting from early experiences with our caregivers as well as school-peers, and how our beliefs about ourselves influence and mediate almost every aspect of our daily life, such as our attitude in the workplace, with our partner, friends, and so forth. The book contains several practical exercises, based on Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy to effectively increase self-esteem.

Staring at the sun by Irvin Yalom

I would recommend literally every book written by Irvin Yalom, yet this may actually be the one that touched me the most. In this book, Yalom offers a little window to his therapy room, sharing true stories of patients dealing with such a sensitive topic like the fear of death. 

Given our human nature, we may well relate to Yalom’s patients, as they live life coping with the certain fact that time on this planet is limited.

Yalom gives us food for thought, drawing on his vast experience in existential psychology and ancient philosophy. 

Online psychotherapy at Covid-19 times

Covid-19 and online psychotherapy


How can we take care of our mental health while in quarantine? Online psychotherapy could be an important tool.

Until a couple of months ago, no one would have imagined that half of the world was soon going to be in lockdown, that we would be stuck at home with no chances to meet our loved ones, unable to travel and visit friends or family, without an office to rush to in the morning, or schools to leave the kids at … 

Our habits have been turned upside down and after an initial reaction of denial, shock and anger perhaps, now we’re doing our best to adapt to the current situation. 

Coronavirus is an invisible new inhabitant of our world that has altered our perception of time, relationships and sense of security. However, this ‘break’ could really represent a good opportunity to reshuffle our routine and think both our life and habits through.

Is there anything that you wish to leave behind in the pre-Coronavirus times? Were there things you may have taken for granted and not appreciated enough? Was the pace of your life too fast? Were you missing out on the important things? 


The impact of quarantine on our mental health

With quarantine underway, fear of contracting the virus, economic instability, fear of losing or actual loss of our loved ones, forced and prolonged isolation are all significant risk factors that may take a significant toll on our mental health.

Prolonged lockdown is indeed presenting different challenges within different age groups. Apparently young people are mostly struggling with boredom, family conflicts and in complying with social distancing rules, whereas the most vulnerable (the elderly and people with health problems) are struggling with solitude. People in their 40s and 50s seem to find it difficult to handle home-schooling and work altogether (S. Barari et al, 2020). 

Scientific research suggests that the main effects of prolonged quarantine consist in increased anxiety, depression and irritability, plus an increase of post-traumatic stress symptoms in healthcare workers that are exposed to emotionally-charged situations on a daily basis. 

The longer the quarantine lasts, the worse the impact on our mental health may be.

In these difficult times, mental health support becomes even more vital and, given social distancing measures, online psychotherapy is the only viable way to therapy.

How does online psychotherapy work?

Online psychotherapy works exactly like face-to-face therapy.

In parallel with the massive use of technology in our daily lives, mental health support has been recently delivered in non-traditional ways, other than the classic face-to-face offline approach. Phone and video calls, emails and also instant messaging are being used as the means to deliver therapy.

Consultation via video call is the most frequent one and, as I personally believe, the best way to access online counselling. Several GDPR compliant platforms can be used, such as Skype and FaceTime.

The sessions work exactly like face-to-face therapy in terms of duration, frequency, confidentiality and how therapy is held.


Is it more difficult to open up online compared to face-to-face meetings?

Not necessarily. Research suggests that young people feel more comfortable with internet-based counselling, especially via instant messaging compared to other traditional forms of psychological support. Anonymity seems to promote more direct communication while reducing feelings such as shame and embarrassment (Kuka, 2014).  

Will the relationship with the therapist feel different compared to face-to-face therapy?

The idea of talking about inner struggles with a therapist never physically met before may raise concerns in some of us. ‘How can I trust a person I have never met? Will the therapist be able to get a full picture without body language cues?’ are indeed common questions.

The screen may sometimes represent a barrier when reading non-verbal cues, but research suggests that online therapy is as useful as face-to-face therapy and that patients report good rates of satisfaction by using this method. 

After all, if you think about it, nowadays there is an abundance of things happening online. We take on new hobbies, make new friends, exchange ideas with like-minded people, hold group meetings and, sometimes, fall in love, too!

In my personal experience, it is possible to establish a solid therapeutical relationship with a therapist online, despite the traditional face-to-face experience still being the preferred method for some people.

Does online psychotherapy work? 

Personally, I believe in the efficacy of online counselling and my experience so far has been promising. 

Data collected in scientific research suggest that online therapy has the same efficacy of face-to-face therapy. In particular, internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has proved its efficacy for treating anxiety as well as depressive disorders and its effects last over time (Wagner, 2014; Andrews, 2018) .

Is online therapy suitable for everyone? 

Online therapy is suitable for most people, yet it may not be for everyone.

It is not recommended for people with suicidal intent, psychosis or acute psychiatric disorders. In general, online therapy is not recommended for people experiencing acute conditions that may require the patient to seek medical help.

If you wish to try online therapy, a good Internet connection and a quiet and private environment to take the call are important. Feeling comfortable opening up is key, therefore you may want to find a suitable time and place where your privacy is protected.

 Which therapist should I choose?

The process of picking your therapist is a very personal one. Check the credentials as well as the qualifications of your chosen therapist to understand whether their area of expertise matches your requirements. 

Then, in the same way as face-to-face therapy, proceed to book an initial session with a couple of therapists or have a quick phone chat with them to address your questions and see how you feel. Your inner guidance will tell you – the best therapist for you is the one you feel comfortable opening up to.


Andrews G, Basu A, Cuijpers P, Craske MG, McEvoy P, English CL, Newby JM.

‘Computer therapy for the anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care: An updated meta-analysis’, Journal of Anxiety Disorders, vol 55, April 2018, Pages 70-78

Wagner B, Horn AB, Maercker A. “Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial”, Journal of Affective Disorders, volumes 152–154, January 2014, Pages 113-121

Barari S, Caria S, Davola A, Falco P, Fetzer T, Fiorin T, Hensel T, Ivchenko A, Jachimowicz J, King G, Kraft-Todd G, Ledda A, MacLennan M, Mutoi L, Pagani L, Reutskaja E, Roth C, Raimondi F Slepoi. “Evaluating COVID-19 Public Health Messaging in Italy: Self-Reported Compliance and Growing Mental Health Concerns”

Kuka DL (2014) “Adolescent Help-Seeking: The Promise of Text Counseling”. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: