Adult Coloring Books

February 16, 2017


Coloring books are no longer just for the kids. In fact, adult coloring books are all the rage right now. But recently, the activity has found a different demographic. What started as a niche hobby has now turned into an international trend, as adult coloring books find themselves on more and more bestsellers? lists throughout the world.


Until recently coloring books have been kids’ territory; but not anymore. Now this hobby of sorts has become a fully-fledged international trend. The first adult coloring books that were actually a success appeared in 2012 and 2013 – they are two Amazon best-sellers ?Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book? and ?Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Coloring Book? by Johanna Basford, a Scottish artist and illustrator. Thus, it can no longer be strictly called a hobby ? as the activity is being closely researched and is claimed therapeutic and effective. It is also suggested as an alternative to meditation.

Art Therapy and Coloring

Art therapy is pretty old and has got many forms. In psychology it is a sphere that works with everything emotional and behavioral related by means of some artwork creation (the American Art Therapy Association.)

It is, unfortunately, cannot be used as a cure for an ailment; however, it is perfectly able to alleviate a patient’s symptoms and make them feel better. It has been also proved by a number of researches that art therapy is beneficial for emotional aspect of an illness ? it helps people to express how they feel when they are unable to articulate it.

However, it is important to note that using an adult coloring book is not exactly the same as completing an art therapy session. Coloring itself cannot be called art therapy because art therapy relies on the relationship between the client and the therapist. And while art therapy was first practiced in the 1940s, the first research on using coloring as therapy is generally believed to have only begun as recently the mid 90s.

Surely, coloring is just one form of art therapy and adult coloring books are a very specific niche. It is not exactly a therapy in a full sense of the word, it lacks client-therapist interaction part, which is important, and it also developed fairly recently. However, it does have a number of benefits, and it is definitely worth a try.


  • Coloring is therapeutic ? there is no doubt about that. It brings your mind together and keeps it occupied. It alleviates stress and anxiety levels in a similar manner mandala drawings do (in accordance to Carl Jung and more recent 2005 research coloring mandalas do all these things.)
  • Coloring makes us more focused and less anxious in this respect as well. Most people relax better and faster in the process of coloring. Thus, such exercise is often used in the course of a regular therapy with mental disorder patients.
  • Besides, coloring is a more effective technique (than drawing, for instance) for people who do not consider themselves very creative and find more challenging expressive tasks stressful.
  • It also helps to ignite creativity, get better at color-matching and analytical thinking.
  • In accordance with other researchers (Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales) coloring brings the concentration that in turn helps to shift from negative thoughts and images to more positive ones.
  • Both parts of the cerebral hemisphere get activated in the course of coloring. The process uses creativity and logic. The former is behind the matching and mixing of colors, while the latter is governed by an analytical part of our brain. In the course of the exercise both of them work together.
  • Coloring is also considered a beneficial therapy for many illnesses. It has been noted that epilepsy patients use coloring books quite effectively.
  • Coloring is something that most kids do and like, well, when they are kids, at them time when they are small and happy. These childhood memories are always sweet; reference to them is used in various senior therapies, especially in cases of Alzheimer and dementia, helping the latter socialize and communicate better. Thus, coloring can be an instrument in such therapies too.
  • Seniors can benefit from such simple exercise as coloring as it means some social time spent together with other people of the same age and interest ? if it is done in a group. Such activity has become very popular recently and can be found in every town.


Where to Get

Here is the list of some free coloring pages that can be printed and used:


Thought the trend is treated ambiguously by many and is supposed both to be fueled by social media and by marketing as well as a means of escape for those adults who are unable to confront real grown-up life (the latter is in accordance with Susan Jacoby, the author of The Age of American Unreason). These are, probably, the same adults that love young adult fiction.

One thing is for sure – time and effort spent on coloring one page is not a futile activity; and it is really gratifying in a way that many things are not. It takes a good while to color one image, and sometimes it is several hours are spent in concentration at one task when colors gradually fill the page and spread across the pattern. By coloring you can see how your thought also gradually materializes and you can see the process as well as result. And it really feels great.

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