Apparently, colouring books are not only for children but for adults too. It is said that after a tough day at work, spend some time with colouring books because it is sure to help you feel better. “The main takeaway is that colouring has some limited benefits like reducing stress and negative mental states,” Said a researchers Girija Kaimal, Assistant Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, US. “But it does not shift anything else of substance, develop relationships, nor result in any personal development,” Kaimal added. A study published in the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, showed that colouring alone does have some positive effect, even though it not be as potent as art therapy. The researchers ran two, separate 40-minute exercises, one consisting of pure colouring and the other involving direct input from an art therapist, to see if one of the other led to significant differences in mood and stress levels.
several exercises were carried out; the first exercise has participants — ranging in ages from 19 to 67 — took part in each exercise. In the pure colouring exercise, the participants coloured in a pattern or design. Although an art therapist was in the room, they did not interact with the person colouring.
In the other exercise, participants were put in an “open studio” where an art therapist was present and able to facilitate the session, provide guidance and support to process the experience and artwork. The participants were able to make any type of art they wished, whether it involved colouring, sketching, doodling, or working with modeling clay. As the participants worked on their piece and the therapist were available to assist the participants if they asked for it. Each therapist took surveys before and after their sessions that ranked their stress levels and feelings. Perceived stress levels went down by at roughly the same levels for both exercises – 10 per cent for colouring; 14 percent for open studio. Negative mental states also showed similar decreases in levels – roughly a seven per cent decrease for colouring; six per cent for open studio, the study said. But the art therapists’ open studio sessions resulted in “more empowerment, creativity and improved mood, which are significant for individuals striving to improve their quality of life and make lasting change”, Kaimal said.
Often, the now-ubiquitous adult colouring books advertise themselves as “art therapy.” But actual art therapists contend that such a claim is misleading, that true art therapy is about growth and relationships and not simply about “feeling better.”