Coloring Book Therapy

Helps Focus In Class, Takes On Fidgeting

Coloring Book Therapy. Healthy Living Magazine

Coloring Book Therapy. Healthy Living Magazine

Johanna Bashford’s Secret Garden sold 36,500 copies in one week alone this summer with over 1.4 million copies bought and 28 different editions released in the foreign market since its publishing date. In August Creative Cats Coloring Book by Marjorie Sarnat sold around 8,000 copies and ranked 11th in overall book sales for the week ending August 16, followed by Color Me Calm from Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter. Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book from Steve McDonald sold 7,100 copies in its debut week and was in 19th place.

“We keep thinking it’s going to end, but it’s getting bigger and bigger,” Jeannine Dillon, who works for Quatro, the company that publishes the Color Me series, said in The Miami Herald.

blocking the negative

A pastime once thought for children, adult coloring is an international health trend with therapeutic properties to go with its boom in sales. Art therapy student Theresa Citerella of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Medical Daily, “A lot of my fellow graduate classmates bring these coloring books into the classroom setting as a tool to focus more on lectures. For my internship, I find the clients who are fidgeting and cannot sit still ask for coloring books in order to concentrate on group discussions. We have several adult coloring books at my site to offer the clients.”

Concentrating on coloring an image may facilitate the replacement of negative thinking and images with pleasant ones, says Dr Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales.

Read: 'Art Room' Program Helps Kids With Behavioral Problems

“You have to look at the shape and size, you have to look at the edges, and you have to pick a color. It should occupy the same parts of the brain that stop any anxiety-related mental imagery happening as well... Anything that helps you control your attention is going to help,” Dr Pearson said.

One simply needs to color within the lines in order to get the desired effect.

art therapy

However, some experts distinguish coloring book therapy from art therapy with lack of artistic input from patients that prevents the former from being considered a genuine form of the latter.

Art therapy seems to be for overcoming physical illness besides possessing other mental effects. Mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. This study “provides beginning evidence for the efficacy of art therapy in reducing a broad spectrum of symptoms in cancer inpatients.” Another study concluded that after only one hour of art therapy, adult cancer patients of all ages “overwhelmingly expressed comfort” and a desire to continue with the therapy.

While some people are gifted artists, those who judge themselves as bad artists may be more likely to miss out on the benefits of art-based therapies. Adult coloring, therefore, presents a creative venture without the need for artistic flair.

Read: Music Grows Brain

ReferencesMonti DA, Peterson C, Kunkel EJ, Hauck WW, Pequignot E, Rhodes L, Brainard GC. A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) for women with cancer. Psycho-oncology. 2006 May;15(5):363-373. Nainis N, Paice JA, Ratner J, Wirth JH, Lai J, Shott S. Relieving symptoms in cancer: innovative use of art therapy. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2006 Feb;31(2):162-169
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