When these colouring books started to appear I felt very defensive about their titles, as I worked hard to become an art psychotherapist and felt that these books could threaten the credibility of the profession. Art therapy is a profession and art therapist/psychotherapist a protected job title; art therapists in the UK are registered with Health and Care Professionals Council (a statutory regulatory body). Saying this, however, my initial defensive reaction was towards its name; art therapy books. As time has gone by I started to feel that these books are actually invited people’s curiosity and brought debate into the profession. Just as Night Nurse (the medicine), does not define or threaten the nursing profession.
Colouring books, nevertheless, can be very therapeutic and I have a few colouring pictures in my therapy consulting room. Although not necessarily creative or expressive forms of art, they can express emotional states as well as influence the individual’s mood. Above all, they facilitate the individual’s near trance state which in turn will help lower stress levels and improve quality of life. Engaging in activities such as colouring, doodling, knitting or doing crochet helps quieten the mind enough, whilst maintaining the individual present and vigilant in the here-and-now. I would say that colouring could be classified as a mindfulness activity, and for this there has been plenty of evidence of its therapeutic benefits.