As I entered into this past weekend, I was feeling tired and overwhelmed from the previous week. I decided to spend a little time doing some scribble drawings for relaxation.
Scribble drawings are a popular technique in art therapy and can be used in different ways. I will plan to address some other approaches and uses of scribble drawings in future posts, but today would like to share about using scribble drawing as a relaxation technique.
How to create a scribble drawing:
Take a small to regular sized piece of paper and create a quick scribble. I recommend using paper on the smaller side for this activity. A large piece of paper can take a long time to fill in the scribble. The smaller sized paper also provides containment and structure to help soothe and calm. (For my drawings this weekend, I cut letter sized paper into four smaller pieces.)
Using your medium of choice, fill in and embellish your scribble with colors and patterns. I created two scribbles using different media — pen and chalk pastels — to fill in my drawings. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and watercolors would also work as well.
Benefits of scribble drawings:
As an intervention in therapy, scribble drawing can work for both children and adults. Doing this activity in therapy can be helpful for calming clients at the end of a difficult session or can teach clients an easy art activity to do at home for relaxation.
One of the benefits of this activity is that it helps to focus your mind on the here and now. By turning away from worries, planning, overanalyzing, negative thoughts, etc. and focusing on the drawing, you can take a break from stress and allow yourself to relax.
Another benefit of the scribble, as opposed to another approach to drawing, is that it helps to remove anxiety or perfectionism in your creative process. A scribble cannot be good or bad, so you do not need to worry about the result.
The next time that you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, try taking a few minutes to doodle and have fun with a scribble drawing.
Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR is an art therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, teen and child counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy.
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Art Changes Lives says
I agree, but for different reasons. One of the aspects that may have some impact is sensory integration– that is crossing the midline with the scribble activity. All the more reason to perhaps do a two-handed scribble instead of just one handed. Also, one has to check in with the individual about what is self-soothing and what just adds to frustration. For some the use of felt pens to doodle is helpful; for others, chalks or oil pastels. And then there are those [like my military clients] who ask, "isn't this what 1st graders do?" 🙂 So then it all has to be reframed, because "scribble" may not be the optimal name for it! Thanks for the interesting post.
Carolyn Mehlomakulu says
Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts! I will definitely look more into the sensory integration aspect, as well as two-handed versus one-handed. It's a good point that we need to check in with clients about what will be soothing or frustrating to them, especially in media choices.
hola en Mexico "scribble" se percibe hasta jactancioso (siempre y cuando no dominen el idioma ingles como es mi caso ),me encanto tu sencilla e inovadora forma de aplicarlo, al igual me resultaron interesantes los comentarios de Art Changes Lives. lo comparto y lo aplicare en su oportunidad muchas gracias por compartilo.
I have been using this technique in my art classes at a small charter school. The kids loved it and frequently asked for it. I have pictures of students bent over their work as though the outside world was not there. They would be so entirely focused that I would stand and stare at their ability to pull themselves into such a relaxed and calming state. These would be students that would be classroom problems, unable to stay quiet, seated, and focused on learning; unhappy with themselves and school disciplines. The students became interested enough to ask to come after school to do art. we started an after school art club, which continues through the summer months as well. I have never before seen an activity so involve the children and give them the benefits that this art form does.
Unfortunately,because of budget cuts and staff downsizing, these students will no longer have an art teacher, and I no longer have a teaching job.
I sometimes wonder what the true meaning of education means to those who have such a control over the future leaders of this country. What are they thinking?
Carol Collins says
What instructions do you give before getting started? Do you ever show examples of scribble art to give ideas to people?
I don’t typically show examples in my private practice with individual clients. However, now that I have been doing some groups in a psychiatric hospital setting, I have found that having a couple of example pieces to show for most directives can be helpful for this setting. In this type of group, clients may be hesitant to speak up if they don’t understand or may be uncomfortable with art in general, so some examples do seem to help them feel more confident in getting started and I have better participation when I show examples. For scribbles, the instructions that I give are similar to what I have on the blog post. It’s definitely helpful to explain what the purpose of this activity is because it can otherwise seem kind of pointless to some clients.