Therapeutic benefits to adult coloring books

(Image: Shutterstock)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – More and more adults are being drawn back into coloring books. And the more complex and intricate version of a favorite childhood pastime has therapeutic benefits for adults.

That’s what a graduate class of future mental health professionals at Southern Connecticut State University is learning.

With Tibetan meditative music in the background, students of licensed professional counselor Dr. Misty Ginicola are focused on filling in between the artistic lines.

She explains, “There’s this long history in psychology of using creative techniques in counseling to meet the needs of clients.”

Adult coloring books have long been a teaching tool of Dr. Ginicola. Research shows that in a clinical environment, they reduce stress and open up lines of communication.

“Where I use it in sessions is when I have a client who is not ready to talk to me yet. They pick a pattern. I pick a pattern and we talk as we color,” says Dr. Ginicola.

An effective technique she teaches to reach out to those who have a tough time opening up.

“This let’s them do that,” she says, “It lets them reach a meditative state where they normally just can’t. They can’t get out of their head and here they are focused. They are calm.”

Self care is something else Dr. Ginicola stresses in the classroom.

Student Cindy Peterson says, “I took it upon myself to do it on my own and when I felt stressed or I felt I needed some balance or just needed to relax I did it on my own. If I can’t take care of myself, how am I going to take care of my patients and my clients.”

“For me,” says former student Licella Matos-Arboleda. “It’s that self talking thing. That maybe I just have too much going on but I do have that control to take a step back and say, it’s too much and maybe ask for help if I need it or prioritize my task.”

There are all kinds of coloring books to meet every individual’s creative needs. There is even an app for that.

Dr. Ginicola says it comes down to shutting down and being in the moment.

But finding the time to do it is key to escaping from the high stress life — many of us are living.

Dr. Ginicola also coordinates an online support group for new moms and highly recommends the coloring books as an outlet for moms struggling with being a parent.

You can find adult coloring books almost anywhere, including checkout lines at some area grocery stores. Most come with fine-point colored pencils.

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