Art therapy is defined by The American Art Therapy Associationas “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”

Art therapy involves using an art medium as a tool to help address a patient’s specific problem, which is often facilitated by an art therapist. That last aspect is usually where most professionals draw the line between art therapy and therapeutic adult colouring pages. 

How is colouring different from Art Therapy?

Drena Fagen, an art therapist and an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Steinhardt School, approves of colouring books and colouring pages and uses them in her therapy sessions. However, she still makes a distinction between them and therapy.

“I don’t consider the coloring books as art therapy; I consider the coloring books therapeutic, which is not the same thing,” She toldThe Guardian

With that being said, colouring is still therapeutic and is a benefit to the colourer’s life. 

 “Any creative endeavor that can in some way help somebody discover something about themselves or find a space that makes them feel safe and comfortable or allows them an opportunity to be with their own thoughts,” Fagen tells The Guardian, “I don’t see how we can criticize that. It seems like it’s only bringing good things to the world.” 

What are the Benefits of Colouring?

Dr. Joel Pearson explains that the therapeutic effect that many colourers face may be because they are concentrating on coloring which replaces the negative or interrupting thoughts of the every day with pleasant thoughts of whatever they are colouring. 

 “You have to look at the shape and size, you have to look at the edges, and you have to pick a color,” Pearson told Nine MSN. “It should occupy the same parts of the brain that stops any anxiety-related mental imagery happening as well.”

Clinical psychologist, Dr. Scott M. Bea explains mentions in a Cleveland Clinicarticle that during colouring, “We are not disturbed by our own thoughts and appraisals. The difficulties of life evaporate from our awareness, and both our bodies and our brains may find this rewarding.”

This way the colourer is focused on the colouring instead of their stresses. 

Colouring benefits people in many ways.  

  1. Reducing Stress
    Colouring is a way to de-stress and focus on something positive. Negative thoughts are expelled as you take in positivity
  2. Allowing a Simple Artistic Outlet
    Comparatively, it is easier, and cheaper than other forms of traditional art. 
  3. Acting as An Easy Alternative
    Colouring can be done by anyone, not just artists or creative types. Since the design is already in place, you just have to bring it to life. 
  4. Offers A Stepping Stone
    Those being said, it can be a gateway to more artistic endeavors. As a stepping stone, other art genres seem less intimidating. Thus, encouraging people to take up painting, sketching, sculpting, or anything that brings a smile to their face. 
  5. Providing A Sense of Accomplishment
    The finished product provides a sense of artistic accomplishment. Many colourers feel pride once they’ve finished a product because of the time and energy they spent with it. 
  6. Granting A Meditative Experience
    It’s similar to mindfulness or meditation. You’re not concentrating on everything else but instead just on the art work. In a way, it calms your mind by focusing on one task. 
  7. Sparking Creativity
    This is a way to be creative and spark creativity in other aspects of a person’s life; home design, fashion, work, family lives. Increased creative thinking helps to find creative solutions throughout your life. 
  8. Taking A Step Back
    Unplugging from technology promotes creation over consumption and stress. Instead of the constant connection with phones, computers, tablets, colouring provides an escape. 
  9. Able to Be Taken Anywhere
    It’s a hobby that can be taken with you wherever you go. All you need is a colouring book and some pencil crayons. All of which, can fit into a small bag.

How can I get involved in colouring?

Whatever your preferences for art, there are adult colouring books out there for you. If you love Doctor Who, or Disney or Game of Thrones or Mandalas or Crystals, then there’s a book out there for you. Adult colouring books are available nearly anywhere that you can buy art supplies, or books themselves. Some stationery shops will also supply them. Indigo, Chapters, Amazon, Walmart, Staples, Mary Maxim, and Hallmark are all examples of large stores that carry quite a few styles of adult colouring books. 

There are also individuals that create their own designs and sell them online for people to colour themselves. Anna Grunduls Designs, is one example which includes colouring sheets in a range of products including stickers, postcards, Tape, posters, notebooks and so on. Etsyitself has quite a few artists selling colouring pages with a range of designs and topics including animals, Star Trek, and Fibonacci’s sequence. Diego Orlandinihas created a Kickstarter for the ultimate street art colouring book. Sarah Renae Clarkis another artist that creates colour pages and books with images including nature, Maritimes, Easter, Christmas among many others. She even includes specialty coloring books about cancer survivors and Affirmations for new mothers. 

From there, the colouring project is whatever you want it to be. These colouring sheets can be done anywhere; A coffee shop, a park, your living room, a bathtub, a classroom, and so on. It can be anytime during your work break, your meal times, or even your vacation.

Many retreats encourage colouring. For example, The Nourish to Flourish retreat is a beautiful retreat in the even more beautiful Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Stacie Overman encourages the attendees to be creative and draw inspiration from the natural beauty around them. Combining the relaxing setting of nature with the stress relief of colouring, it’s a serene mixture. 

Regardless of what you’re looking to colour, there’s an adult colouring page out there for you.

If you’re looking for more ways to relieve anxiety and bring more positivity in your life, feel free to click on this link to receive Stacie Overman’s eBook, “Anxiety Relief Five Easy Techniques”

By Guest Blogger Dylanna Fisher

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