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Art therapy is good for your health

submitted by Carrie Tamutus, BFA, MAAT, www.justmakeartstudio.com

It’s no surprise that adult coloring books have grown in popularity for stress relief, mindfulness, and an overall sense of, “Ahhhhhh,” …relaxation. The simple act of coloring in a coloring book can be highly therapeutic and for good reason. Recent studies have shown that making art reduces the amount of cortisol levels detected in our bodies.

Our bodies produce cortisol, or the “stress hormone” when we feel upset, anxious, angry, or simply out-of-sorts. Therefore, allowing ourselves the opportunity to do anything creative or artistic can regulate our nervous systems, and free us from worrisome ruminating.

While ascribing to these simple acts of artistic expression may make you feel better, they should not be confused with actual art therapy, which takes place between an art therapist and a client. In order to truly reap the full benefits of art therapy, one must develop a therapeutic relationship with a professional.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making art is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”

Different from a traditional talk therapy session, art therapy takes place in a setting that encourages free artistic expression and clients have a wide variety of art materials to choose from. For some, art therapy may involve using clay, while for others; painting, drawing, or collage is their modality of choice.

Most importantly, previous experience with art is not required to benefit from art therapy. The process of creating is often more significant than the final product itself.

And if coloring in an adult coloring book works for you, keep coloring! Any act of self-expression can provide a feeling of joy and accomplishment.