Are coloring books for adults art therapy?
is a question that if asked of a professional art therapist you would probably receive a negative reply. To become an art therapist takes years of training, hundreds of hours of practical experience and of course the exams to prove the training and education.
Therapy is defined as treatment to relieve or heal a disorder. In the broadest sense of the word therapy, any activity carried out to have a different result to the activity itself could be described as therapy.
A roller coaster ride, a parachute jump, a bungy jump are examples of activities designed to do one thing, (thrill by fear) but the results of that activity could be something else. When doing these activities it is difficult to think of anything else other than fear. Bills to pay, the boss or pending exams are forgotten. Activities like this allow relief from those stresses, albeit fleetingly. These could be described as stress reducing activities, although they could also be described as activities that replace one stress with the stress of fear or thrill.
Art therapy is much more complex. Done properly it encourages free expression by encouragement of painting, drawing or other artistic activity. Coloring a pre-made image is not quite the same as free expression in art. However, consider that although the image may be previously designed by someone else, the coloring of it, is unique to the person coloring it. You would color it one way, someone else another way. A week later when in a different frame of mind, both would color it differently. For this reason coloring books for adults could possibly be described as art therapy in its broadest sense.
Insufficient studies have been made to date on coloring books as art therapy, other than small ones that indicate that the daily stresses of life can be reduced by coloring there is little available data. In the world we live today, we are constantly asked to do more. Drive safer, work harder, work better, get a larger house, a larger car, more expensive houses the pressures are endless.
Children no longer go to the local school around the corner and play with local friends. Schools are large centralized establishments and your children will always choose friends on the other side of town. More pressures on parents time and finances as they now run, a taxi service.
Even jobs no longer seem secure, zero hour contracts are becoming common place. Indeed many companies do not last long enough for jobs to be secure. More people than ever choose self employment, which brings its own stresses.
Stress reducing activities are becoming not only desirable but essential to calm life down. Good choices of activity as stress relieving therapies are Yoga, Pilates, meditation or groups that help each other to de-stress. With the world of troubles around you, is it possible to meditate and forget your problems. With training yes of course it is. So in a year or so you can de-stress your life. Pilates and meditation are similar in that a period of training is required and often a specific time slot and place to be is necessary. Not so easy in a busy life.
An advantage of an activity such as coloring is that no training or special places are required to carry it out. Sit down and start coloring, within a few minutes keeping the pattern correct, fills the mind and temporarily, stresses are gone. At least that is one of the many claims for coloring books for adults as art therapy.
What other claims are there for coloring books as art therapy?
- Coloring trains the brain to focus
- Improves fine motor control
- Can improve vision
- Improves coordination
- Improves sleep
- Free expression in color choices and shading styles encourages artistic development
- Improves creativity
These are claims I found by trawling through the internet, for claims made for coloring books for adults. I cannot answer the question are coloring books for adults art therapy authoritatively yet. The jury is still out until more studies are carried out.
The claim that coloring books improves vision may be a little ambitious. Fine motor control and coordination probably have a measure of truth in them. Do you have any views on are coloring books for adults art therapy?
On a parting note, one aspect that is often not mentioned when attempting to sell coloring books as an art therapy, is simple enjoyment. Not just in the coloring of the designs, further enjoyment is found in looking at previously colored designs. Some hang them in frames on the wall, such is their pride in their art.
What is your view on, Are coloring books for adults art therapy?