• Adult colouring in books are in the top ten Amazon best sellers chart
  • Stockport NHS Art Psychotherapist says colouring in has no connection to Art Therapy
  • Manchester art teacher believes all art is therapeutic
  • Is it all just a money making gimmick?
  • Case study: One family shares their own experiences

ADULTS across the country are dusting off their pencil cases to spend their spare time colouring in. It is not just about creating a pretty picture, colouring is now cool and great way to de-stress. But is this do-it-yourself type of therapy a legitimate way to close the door on the demands of life, or are we just filling the pockets of opportunistic publishers? Amy Sheridan finds out more…

Log onto Pinterest and there is a vast amount of free colouring in pages for adults; slogans, animals and intricate scenes are available at the click of a mouse to be decorated in any way possible.

Take a trip over to Amazon.co.uk and the bestsellers list will show that the colouring book that took the UK by storm is The Secret Garden by Joanna Basford rrp £9.95. Joanna claims that: “Colouring books for adults have been popular for some time, but it was a fairly underground hobby. Many thought it was a childish pursuit.”

There is certainly money to be made in this colouring book boom, Ana Mclaughlin, head of publicity for independent UK publisher Micheal O’Mara told The Guardian:

“It was last year that it all really mushroomed with Art Therapy, in June. It really took off for us – selling the anti-stress angle gave people permission to enjoy something they might have felt was quite childish.”

So is colouring in actually art therapy? Manchester based art teacher Sophie Merril believes that it is, and it isn’t just the pretty designs that have sent colouring book sales through the roof:

“Colouring books calm the mind. They focus the mind onto something different that’s why they are becoming popular.”

Sophie believes that when anger and stress rise it can: “take over the brain and it can’t function properly.”

“Colouring in or creating art uses the creative side of the Brain and allows that to take control making the brain function better. In terms of general art – it’s letting the brain escape stresses”

Mental_Health_FoundationSophie’s opinion is not echoed by NHS Art Psychotherapist John Crossfield:

“Art Therapy/ art psychotherapy is an explorative process based around the development of a therapeutic relationship with a qualified therapist.”

“Adult colouring books/ subscriptions such as ‘Art Therapy’ and the like have no connection to the art therapy profession.”

John acknowledges that avid colouring in fans: “may find engaging in such an activity relaxing, enjoyable and may even refer to the experience as ‘therapeutic’.”

“However, they have no relevance to the field of art therapy.”

John’s clarification of what is and isn’t classed as therapy suggests that it is indeed a marketing gimmick.

In a recent survey, The Mental health foundation said that 65% of stressed adults would be likely to take part in activities that reduce stress, with 49% of adults struggling to switch off from work.

Fifteen minutes of relaxation can reduce stress levels up to 30%.

Colouring in might not be classed as Art Therapy, but a new set of pencil crayons could be a real lifetime investment.

Case Study – The Hulme family

Hulme_family_holiday
The Hulme family on holiday

Professional singer Georgina Hulme, 29 her husband Andrew Hulme, 27 and their Five year old daughter Isabelle live in Oldham.

Andrew loves spending his free time colouring in and even has his own set of pens, he sits with his daughter as she colours in her Disney princess book. Mum Georgina does not share their interest:

“I just do not have the patience for colouring, I cannot sit down and waste all that time.”

“It has the opposite effect for me and makes me feel really stressed, I prefer to go out walking with my daughter to relax.”

Andrew says that: “Sitting quietly at the end of the day colouring in, makes a nice change to the daily bombardment of technology.”

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