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Coloring books V. Real Art Therapy

In the present day’s stressful lifestyle, it is extremely important for an individual to effectively cope up with stress. Nowadays, many adult coloring books are available in the market that claim to be helpful in reducing negative and stressful feelings. Lately, a new study has revealed that these books available in the market advertise themselves as “art therapies”, but they are actually not.

Girija Kaimal, EdD, assistant professor in Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, stated that although coloring has some affirmative effects, but it is definitely not as effective as engaging an art therapist. Undoubtedly, coloring reduces stress and improves mental situation but it is neither useful in developing relationships nor in any personal development. Kaimal and her Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal study co-authors -- Janell Mensinger, PhD, associate research professor in Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health, and doctoral stduents Jessica Drass and Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell organised two 40 minute sessions. The first session was that of pure coloring and the other one involved direct input from an art therapist. It was observed that the art therapies were more powerful and produced better results such as improved mood and better creativity in individuals. It was inferred that stress levels reduced by almost 14% during open studio session and 10% during the coloring session.  Negative mental states also showed 7% decrease for coloring; 6 percent for open studio. It was also noticed that the participants showed increase in self-efficacy, creative agency, and positive feelings after their art therapist-aided open studio sessions. As a result it can be concluded that coloring does allow for some reduction in distress or negativity, but does’nt facilitate further creative expression, discovery and exploration.

By: Anuja Arora


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