Skip to content
Toggle Left Side Navigation

Those Coloring Books for Grown-Ups – Therapy or Not?

February 15, 2016

You see them everywhere. First they were at hobby and craft stores, then book stores, now you can find them in the magazine stands at grocery stores. They are the coloring books for grown-ups, some claiming to be “art therapy.”

It so happens Emporia State prepares people to become art therapists — the program has been around more than 40 years, about as long as the field of art therapy. Who better to ask about the validity of the claim of these materials as art therapy than one of the university’s own art therapy professors?

“Art therapy as a field is excited the adult coloring book phenomenon,” said Dr. Gaelynn Wolf Bordonaro, associate professor and coordinator of Emporia State’s art therapy program. “That so many people are looking to coloring and potentially other forms of art for an outlet is a positive thing.”

In fact, the coloring book “The Coloring Studio” published by Somerset Studio in 2015 specifically noted the Emporia State’s graduate art therapy program.

“We were thrilled to see this coloring book is for sale in Michaels Arts and Craft Stores all over the country!” Wolf Bordonaro said.

But, Wolf Bordonaro cautioned, a person should be careful to understand the difference between something therapeutic, such as these coloring books, and actual therapy.

“Many art therapists agree the relaxing effect coloring — either in a group or alone — can have,” said Wolf Bordonaro. “However, the term ‘art therapy’ is quite different, as it is facilitated by a trained, professional art therapist.”

Wolf Bordonaro added this is the same line the American Art Therapy Association has taken. The AATA recently endorsed Dover Adult Coloring books as a good part of a self-care routine, but recommends that anyone needing art therapy seek out a professional.

For people interested in what exactly art therapy entails, the Emporia State Art Therapy program is hosting its 42nd Annual Art Therapy Discovery Day on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Current professionals and students of all kinds, prospective art therapy students, and friends and family are welcome.

Dr. Patricia Isis, an internationally recognized art therapist who lives and works in Miami, Florida, will be a featured speaker. The topic of her keynote address and experiential workshops is “Art Therapy and Mindfulness.”

“We think — along with counselors, social workers, nursing and allied health workers, and psychologists — maybe yoga practitioners and instructors would be interested in attending to hear Dr. Isis,” said Wolf Bordonaro. “Since Dr. Isis works in the school system with kids with behavioral disorders, school administrators, special education teachers, and school counselors may be interested too.”

The Art Therapy Discovery Day is hosted by the Emporia State graduate art therapy program and the Student Art Therapy Organizations. To attend, people need to register through under “Upcoming Events.” To find out more, contact Wolf Bordonaro at, or Jessica Stallings at 402-657-8236.




Achievement - Emporia State University

Check out our students' achievements and accomplishments on Emporia State's site