Our Research

Exploring the Influence of Coloring on Attachment:

A Pilot Study

ACT Foundation is dedicated to both education and research in the field of child trauma.  Helping to evaluate the potential positive impact of new tools fits well within our mission.  ACT Foundation aided such research by supporting a research project at Elizabethtown College, Department of Occupational Therapy, to measure the effectiveness of a new trauma/anxiety-reduction tool. 

Study Title: Exploring the Influence of Coloring on Attachment: A Pilot Study


Authors: Shelby Brown, Megan Dle Michele, Alyssa Frankenfield, Victoria Pagano

Faculty Mentor: Christine Achenbach, MEd, OTR/L


Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to: 

- Describe the impact of insecure attachment on individuals across the lifespan

- Identify the need for occupation-based attachment interventions

- Understand trauma-informed care as it applies to occupational therapy

- Recognize the implications of coloring on stress, anxiety and attachment


Purpose: This study assessed the utility of Color Me Closer as a modality to foster attachment. Color Me Closer is a coloring book in prototype phase of development, designed for two people to simultaneously color together. 

Purposes of this study were to assess the influence of coloring on attachment and anxiety, explore if coloring is a valid therapeutic tool for individuals with and without trauma histories, and provide evidence regarding benefits of a potential marketable tool. 


Method: Convenience sampling was used for this mixed methods pretest-posttest inquiry to recruit undergraduate college students, ages 18-24 years old. Prior to participation, subjects completed a survey to provide demographic information. Next, utility of the coloring book was assessed using a series of standardized assessments, self-report questionnaires, and physiological measures over the course of two sessions. Field notes were taken while subjects simultaneously colored a page from Color Me Closer. Data was analyzed using SPSS. 


Results: Overall, results indicate decreased levels of anxiety and self-reported stress, and increased self-reported feelings of attachment toward each subject's coloring partner over the course of the intervention. Unfamiliar coloring pairs were found to have larger differences between pre-and post-attachment reports, when compared to familiar coloring pairs. 


Conclusions: Coloring in pairs appears to have an impact on stress, anxiety, and attachment. Further research is needed to better understand the utility of Color Me Closer as a potential tool to foster attachment for individuals with and without disorders of trauma and attachment. 

© About Child Trauma 2019

929 Main Street, Suite 248
Mount Joy, PA


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