That Adult-Coloring Book Trend? It’s Actually Therapeutic.

In the past several years, adult coloring books have landed in the main stream of society, and in doing so, they have helped to raise awareness towards the therapeutic benefits of art making. Traditionally, coloring has been an activity that many people associate with early childhood, however the research around adult coloring books has come to show a variety of mental health benefits.

Adult coloring books, not to be confused with participating in actual art therapy, has proven to be both therapeutic and beneficial as it becomes a form of mindfulness meditation (2).  Studies have shown that adult coloring can be helpful for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, focus, and concentration.  Additionally, adult coloring has also helped people to cope with other mental health disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, anger management, substance abuse, and eating and binging disorders (3).

Adult Coloring Books Have Real Benefit

You may be thinking, “How can coloring in a coloring book have such an impact on mental health?”  Excellent question!  Basically, the act of coloring becomes a self-soothing action that isn’t too complex, can be done anywhere, and is easy to access.  When coloring an intricate design within an adult coloring book, both sides of the brain are engaged and focus is heightened (3).  This occurs because the participant is creating balance, is choosing their color pallet, is problem solving and they are incorporating their fine motor skills, all simultaneously (3).  As a result, coloring can provide a switch from negative thought and behavior patterns and to healthier, safer coping strategies.  According to Neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski, “tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming” (1) and adult coloring books create a less intimidating platform for those who may not consider themselves to be natural artists (1).

Mandala Art For Transgender Pride

Mandalas are an example of an intricate design, and are popular themes in coloring books. Art therapy student, Beckett Weeks, drew a transgender pride mandala for Pride 2017, available for free download. Download the mandala, print it, and color as you see fit, and see if coloring provides you relaxation and mindful meditation.

Written by Art Therapy student, Jaimie Lyon. About being in AUS’s art therapy program, Jaimie says, “After nearly ten years of working towards pursing art therapy as a study, I am finally in my first quarter at Antioch University Seattle!  I look forward to the developmental growth this program can offer and acquiring the skills needed to help guide other’s artistic explorations towards healthier lives.”


  1. Dovey, D.  (2015, October 8).  The Therapeutic Science Of Adult Coloring Books: How This

Childhood Pastime Helps Adults Relieve Stress.  Retrieved from

  1. Fitzpatrick, K.  (2016, January 6).  Why adult coloring books are good for you. Retrieved from

  1. Martinez, N. Dr.  (2016, November 24).  7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great For Your

Mental, Emotional, and Intellectual Health.  Retrieved from

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