The Art of Well Being


Victoria Fleming, Outgoing Region VI SAC

May 10, 2018

Many of us have seen “Coloring Books for Adults” all over social media. Some people say it’s just another company capitalizing on childhood memorabilia to make money, where others have swore by it saying it can help relieve anxiety, stress, and other common alignments that affect our everyday lives. Well, what if I told you there has actually been research put behind this movement?

CRAFT Therapy stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) therapy assist an individual how to resist change. CRAFT therapy helps come up with variety of coping techniques to improve positive behavior and reinforcement. Originally designed to show how others can interact with the individual in order to bring family members closer together, we took our own twist geared more towards our student body.

At California State University San Bernardino, we see the worth in doing certain crafts as a form of coping or just relaxation. We offer a new craft every week, and each craft has a specific way of how it ties into mental health. We call our program “Creative Coyotes” in honor of our mascot Cody the coyote.

Some examples of crafts we offer are:

  • Black Out Poetry - focuses on finding your voice and being able to have a safe form of self expression
  • Wish Flag Banner - can be motivational and offer a fun way to start goal setting without the pressure of deadlines
  • Cross Stitching - used as a form of mindfulness as it is a painstaking task that if you don’t keep yourself present in the moment while doing, you are almost guaranteed to cross the wrong pieces of thread
  • Touchstones - clear small marble like items that have a power word, worlds of affirmations, or a gentle reminder written on a piece of paper glued to the bottom. The touchstones are used as a grounding method, so if someone was in the midst of a panic or anxiety attack they could hold onto it in hopes of lessening the severity of the attack
  • “I AM…” Collages - can help a student reflect and potentially raise self-esteem by focusing on positive things about themselves. We even offer the adult coloring pages with colored pencils in our counseling and health center waiting rooms just to decrease the stress of waiting for an appointment!

There are several other crafts that we provide for our students and I could probably go on forever and ever, so I think I’m just gonna stick with these big five that students on my campus seem to enjoy the most. In analysis of our own students based off of a distributed survey, 95.6% of students wanted CRAFT Therapy (later renamed) to be offered again in the future academic year. Students love to have creative outlets to reduce their stress, and it shows in our attendance having an average of 40 students every session.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s important we all take a step back to reflect on our life and take a moment out of the day to do a craft. Whether it be a collage to give to someone for Mother’s day, or a touchstone to grasp on during that next job interview. These small pieces of art help us ground back to what is important. Even if we don’t face a mental illness ourselves, we could all use a little more time to incorporates things into our lives that keep our mental health balanced.

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