Benefits of Coloring and Art Therapy

Benefits of Coloring and Art Therapy, Therapy for Mental Health

My mom and I sat around the kitchen table with my daughter (8), and my Grandmother, (80 with full blown dementia) and colored away. A table of ladies armed with colored pencils and my daughters new Usborn Doodle Books. We chose our the perfect picture of creative expression (frogs, owls, cityscapes, and fashion pics) and the most amazing thing happened- all our troubles went away. We chose colors, chatted about nothing in particular, and created our perfect colored masterpieces. Four generations of gals equally entrenched in blues, greens, and all other variations of the prisma color box and coloring pages in front of us. We all held up our completed works at the end of our coloring session when my mom remarked "that was the most fun I have had coloring in years!" 

The coloring for adults trend has recently exploded. Meditative coloring books are in every book store, craft shop and local Walmart. As an artist, I have always felt that art is absolutely my most coveted therapy time. Now it seems art therapy has transcended all barriers and ended up in the lap of anyone looking for some mindful peace. What are the benefits of coloring and art therapy? Here are six believed benefits of coloring to stimulate positive mental health mental health. 


2)brain yoga- uses both sides of the brain. 

3)Brings you home to calming place

4)Meditative affects

5)Connecting with our inner child

6)Overcome mental ailments- anger, anxiety, and depression

In an article in the Huffing Post it reads- When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres, says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala. “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” 

Art has been used for decades as a for of therapy. Carl G Jung, a prolific psychologist in the early 20th century utilized coloring of Gothic rose symbols as a relaxation technique. It is used my many psychologists today as well to aid in therapy of individuals.

My daughter suffers from some anxiety issues. During an especially rough patch of anxiety about school we saw a child counselor for a brief time. She utilized art a great deal to help her my daughter form a better understanding of her own emotions and how to handle them. Even now, if my kiddos are having a rough day drawing and coloring is one of the number one items on our list of 'go-to's to help formulate a better attitude.  

Although it seems like their could be no negative affects of coloring their are some individuals that have discounted the level of actually 'therapy' involved. 

In an article written by Heather Schwedel of The Guardian, it goes on to state, "If you want to color, knock yourself out, but don’t call it meditation or therapy.

Donna Betts, president of the board of the American Art Therapy Association and an assistant professor at George Washington University, agreed, adding she has never used coloring books in a therapy session, and would never consider it.

In her view, there’s a distinction to be made between coloring and actually creating art. “It’s like the difference between listening to music versus learning how to play an instrument,” Betts said. “Listening to music is something easy that everyone can do, but playing an instrument is a whole other skillset.”"

Wikipedia states,  "Therapy ... is the attempted remediation of a health problem, usually following a diagnosis. "

Custom Art created to highlight your passions, reminds you of what you love in life, where you feel at home...

Custom Art by Shelby Hohsfield

Custom Art by Shelby Hohsfield

Many modern psychologists specializing in in adult therapy believe coloring to be therapeutic, but not actually therapy. 

Maybe it's a matter of interpretation but most individuals I know who have had experience in therapy go with the intention of finding a coping mechanism to allow for peace in the face of mental challenges and mental health. Because of its soothing affects, creative expression and ability to allow us to forget our worries and troubles, I believe coloring can absolutely be used as a coping mechanism. It does not aid in precipitating a diagnosis or completely eradicate mental illness and may fall more into a therapeutic realm rather than modern therapy, but it's use as a way to temporarily escape and cope are undeniable.

At has always been my therapy.

Regardless of weather we define it as therapy or just a calming way to spend an afternoon coloring is sure to bring some color into your day and calm in the midst of a busy world. My momma, grandma, McKenna and myself sure think so. 

Grandma and I after coloring- art therapy for dementia

Grandma and I after coloring- art therapy for dementia


Sites used in this article include:

HuffPost Spain. Translation by Isaura Camós Gibert; 

The Guardian, Heather Schwedel, August 17th, 2015;