In a world where we're constantly distracted by a never ending stream of information from our technology, phones, social media, work and relationships, it can be hard to focus and keep stress at bay. Studies have looked at if simple activities can offer temporary relief and mindfulness. One such trend is coloring books catered to adults, but do they help?
Can Coloring Reduce Anxiety?
In a study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, by Nancy A. Curry and Tim Kasser, evidence showed favorable results for coloring therapy. The study consisted of inducing anxiety in the subjects, then having them practice meditation then join a group to color a mandala design, a plaid design, or a plain sheet of paper. The results of this study showed that the group coloring the mandala design for twenty minutes was more effective than the group coloring the plain sheet of paper.
A second study, replicating the first, by Renée van der Vennet and Susan Serice, found similar results in favor of coloring a mandala design for twenty minutes.
A more recent study by Drexel University in 2017 showed that while coloring can reduce stress, it still cannot be considered, by itself, a replacement for art therapy assisted by a licensed therapist.
How Does Coloring Therapy Work?
Similar to meditation, coloring focuses the mind on a simple task. This relaxes the brain and helps the patient to not fixate on distressing thoughts while they are coloring. It also doesn't require a rule set. Patients don't need to worry about staying within the boundaries of the lines unless they want to. The repetitive motion of the hand and a focused mind triggers a relaxation response in the body, lowering blood pressure, slowing down heart rate, and decreasing production of cortisol.
Recommending Coloring Therapy
Coloring therapy is mildly effective, and can be used if the patient finds it to be a relaxing exercise. Not everyone feels the same about coloring, so understanding a patient's history with that type of exercise is important before recommending it.
How to Track Progress For Coloring Therapy?
InSync Healthcare Solution's electronic health records software allows mental health providers to not only write progress notes for psychotherapy but also track the notes and create a visual graph to show a patient's progress or decline. Since the software is fully-integrated, you can track sessions conducted via the software telehealth application as well as creating a billable claim automatically once your session begins.