Bradbury Therapy and the Healing Power of Stories

Stories have always been important to humanity. They compose historical accounts while also passing down wisdom and traditions. However, new studies are showing that stories are far more important than they seem at first glance.

As it turns out, stories can be used to heal. In a psychological practice known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), patients work with practitioners to slowly change their inner narrative. 

This involves a lot of talking in which the therapist uses metaphor and allegory to shift how a patient talks and thinks about the self.

Bradbury Therapy and the Healing Power of Stories

The driving idea behind ACT is that the stories we tell ourselves about how we live are important to how we feel about ourselves and others. Over the course of a lifetime, everything we experience is recorded as memory. These memories are based in an image that picks up emotions, inner reactions, and outward reactions surrounding the event. Eventually, the accumulation of memories weave together and inform the narrative that is constructed around daily reality.

If you can shift the narrative, you can change your life.

Books Can Heal

In a 2010 Psychology Today article titled “A Therapist Should Be a Good Storyteller: How a Novelist and a Therapist Are Alike,” Ilana Simons, P.hD shares an experience she had in using these methods to help a patient. Simons goes on to discuss how books can heal through helping us to change our narratives, stating that

“I do think that authors are like therapists insofar as they build new images that might replace staid old images, offering us new lenses for seeing life.”

So, it seems that books really can help us to heal psychological wounds, proving once again the awesome power of the written word.

Bradbury Therapy

Simons article reminded me of a habit I picked up when I was younger. Having just landed at college, naïve and from the country, I felt very out of place. I’d always found comfort in reading, however, and one day I happened to grab a volume of Ray Bradbury stories from the library shelf. It became my best friend.

Anytime I felt down, I would crack open the thick hardcover and skim through until I found a story that related to what I was going through. Fifteen minutes later I’d be feeling better and settling into the next tale.  The introduction to this book gave me a much needed dose of courage before traveling, helped me to let go of a dearly departed friend, and made me laugh and cry over the absurdity of life.

So, the next time you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, crack open a book and disappear into someone else’s problems for a while. Relax as the quietly contemplative words of your favorite author rewrite the script in your mind.

When you’re done reading, pop in and let us know what book helped you and how. Maybe someone else will happen upon it, and it will be exactly what they need.


You can find some of the books we'd recommend in our article: Can Reading Fantasy Make You a Better Person?

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