So, here’s my take on this new fad of coloring books for “grown-ups”.(which I sheepishly admit I designed a book of my own) I agree with my clinical colleagues that these books do not replace the art therapist or rather they are not a form of art therapy in and of themselves. I cringe when I see certain publishers use the title “art therapy” on their covers! However, I do believe that certain types of coloring books/ pages do add some value particularly if they are incorporated with intent.
When I say intent, I refer to the therapist’s reasoning when offering these pages as well as their intuitive response to a client that may need to have a short diversion. The pages themselves are not evil, they are not anti-art therapy, rather they can be a reasonable addition to a total session. However do not use them as a replacement or for the whole time. (Add in moderation)
For example, many times a child with focusing/ behavioral issues may need to settle down a bit before getting into the directive at hand; a coloring page with some boundaries and time limits may be helpful. A coloring page with a particular theme may also be ok in order to stimulate ideas and creativity especially if the therapist can offer a follow up to the page. A follow up might be, “Now that you have warmed up and colored the butterfly, I’d like you to create a special place for this butterfly to go…..
How about making your own coloring pages? Zentangles ®…..love them….great way to have clients create their own coloring pages too. Do some examples, bring along the book on patterns and share the love 🙂 Explain the philosophy behind doing zentangles, doodling and even coloring pages. In my mind these “activities” while inspired or utilized by art therapists are essentially ART as MEDITATION. Offering this as something that clients can use on their own in order to regain a sense of calm is totally fine.