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The Book Therapy Team

Alison Fraser is the owner and founder of Book Therapy. She has specialised skills in book development – manuscript assessment, mentoring, comprehensive editing and book condensation – honed through a career in publishing spanning twenty years. This includes producing a successful fiction series for Reader’s Digest Australia, and diverse editorial roles with HarperCollins, Allen & Unwin, Murdoch Press, Rethink Press, LexisNexis and the NSW Writer’s Centre. Alison majored in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney and completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Editing and Publishing at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Since starting Book Therapy, Alison has been fortunate enough to work with many talented emerging writers, such as Linda Margolin Royal, Natasha Rai, Zoe Ghani, Lesley Saddington, Jane Carrick and Caitlin Hodder-Manceau. Her clients have gone on to achieve traditional publication, be commended in awards and successfully self-publish. 

Alison’s clients value the thoroughness of her approach, her cogent feedback on structure, style and commercial viability, and her passion to help them achieve their publishing goals. 

Alison Fraser is currently taking a sabbatical to write her own book. During her absence, she is fortunate to have two extremely experienced indivdiuals assisting her clients: Catherine Jinks (author) and Peter Dockrill (editor).

Catherine Jinks

Catherine Jinks is a multi-award-winning author of more than 50 books, many published internationally. She has written in numerous genres and for diverse age groups, producing everything from picture books to children’s historical fantasy to adult thrillers. Catherine has a 30-year history in writing and editing, specialising in commercial fiction. She is an experienced facilitator of writing workshops and has her own YouTube channel, ‘Storybook Cottage Writer’. For a full list of her titles, check out www.catherinejinks.com.

Peter Dockrill

Peter Dockrill has more than 40 years of experience as a writer and editor on books, magazines, newspapers, websites and corporate publications. Much of that time was spent with Reader’s Digest in Australia, Asia and Canada, where he edited books and magazines that have been published around the world. He has largely specialised in narrative non-fiction, such as memoirs, biographies, travel and true crime, and enjoys creating work that uses clear, concise language and engaging storytelling.

About Book Therapy

Book therapy—also known as bibliotherapy—is based on the idea that books have the capacity to improve an individual’s wellbeing.

I first came across the term bibliotherapy in 2015, in relation to The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, a book that offers works of literary fiction as remedies for various ailments. As a book editor and lifelong bibliophile with an interest in therapy, I was immediately drawn to this concept. As a reflected, however, I wondered whether there might not be a wider application between books and therapy, especially as my experiences had shown me the therapeutic nature of so many different types of books.

I think one of the reasons that narratives, both fiction and non-fiction, can be therapeutic, is because they take a life, or events from a life, and shape them. This contextualisation allows individual events, even those that involve great suffering, to be seen from a larger perspective. Through the whole—biography, for example—we see adversity, but also love, successes, challenges, mistakes, as all part of the fabric of life, as part of a narrative of worth. This can lead a reader to see the traumatic or mundane parts of their life as one small part of a greater narrative.

Memoirs on a particular aspect of a life can provide a sense of rapport and hopefulness on the part of the person reading them. Memoirs about eating disorders or colon cancer or raising a child with autism can assist an individual to feel less alone, and to possibly learn skills from another person who has lived through a comparable experience.

Non-fiction books about mental health can be extremely useful for individuals who can’t afford to see a decent psychologist or therapist, or who have other reasons not to pursue that option. Reading about therapeutic practices and performing exercises within the security of your own home—or bedroom—can be very appealing, and experts have written excellent books on subjects such as depression and anxiety. Many are works that therapists read to assist their clients; others are specifically designed to suit a more general reader.

There are times when you need a break from your current situation or state of mind, and the immersive experience of reading can be an ideal diversion. A couple of hours in an alternate reality can feel like a short holiday from your problems. People are often attracted to popular fiction and genre fiction when they are looking for an escape from reality because these genres have a predictable narrative and a set of tropes that is familiar and comprehensible—and far less chaotic than reality. The reader has the illusion of being inside a life where the reasoning and motivations of characters make sense; mundane realities are glossed over, and there is a satisfying conclusion.

Literary fiction often explores aspects of the human condition, and can offer insights into the deep psychological dramas of life. This can assist us to more fully understand various facets of the experience of being human; it can also expand our sense of perspective, both our perception of our own lives and our understanding of the lives of others.

To read a book is to directly share an experience with another person—the author. Books are therapy because they provide connection. Since the sixteenth century individuals have used books as a vehicle for communicating ideas and insights to a larger audience. Improving our understanding of ourselves and others and gaining new perspectives on reality are all ways that enrich and improve our lives. (Or to escape from them temporarily.) For all the above reasons, I would strongly argue that books are a form of therapy.

NB: I have used the term ‘book therapy’ rather than ‘bibliotherapy’ both to differentiate it from a term that focuses on literary fiction and because it is a straightforward, easy-to-understand phrase.