Tag Archives: Art For Recovery

Using Recovery Coloring Pages To Help Your Recovery

For many people facing stress, mental health concerns, and even just everyday life, the world can feel perpetually dark. Like a never-ending tunnel, the mind may try to convince you that you are riding a runaway train that fails to find the light at the end. That trapped mind might tell you that the easiest solution is to accept this as your new normal, but deep down, you know that life was never supposed to be this way. Without steps to combat the darkness, many of those stuck in that cycle float through life, never feeling like who they were meant to be.

For those in recovery from substance use disorders without adequate coping skills, this darkness can result in continued use or risk a relapse back into substance use behaviors. Fortunately, life does not have to be lived in overwhelming shadows. With the right support, learning to navigate the difficult emotions, triggers, and stressors that accompany recovery can help create the color and light we need to help pull us from our darkness.

Why Coloring?

At an early age, crayons became tools of expression as we color both inside and outside the lines. From the walls in our homes to the paper at school, wherever we could create color, we tried. For many of us, however, as we age, we forget how powerful those bright and luminant creations were. We often stop creating and put pressure on ourselves to try to fit in, exacerbating troubles and traumas of the past that may have been left untreated.

Helping individuals recover starts by helping them understand that coloring outside the lines is nothing more than an expression of self. It is okay to be different, and recognizing that everyone’s life journey is different starts with the ability to show on the outside what is going on inside. For many in recovery, this starts by revisiting that favorite childhood activity: coloring.

By utilizing coloring pages as a form of art therapy, an individual recovering from substance use disorder can find the colors they were longing for in that darkness. In fact, coloring pages provide a multitude of benefits that go beyond simply practicing art skills.

Coloring Benefits

There are numerous benefits to coloring that can help provide the therapy needed to support recovery from substance use.

These include:


When you’re coloring, the mind can become more focused. Many people with substance use disorders suffer from other underlying conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, panic disorders, or even post-traumatic stress disorders. For many with these types of disorders, the mind is searching to be anywhere but in the current moment. The meditative properties of coloring and focusing on its soothing qualities can actually calm the mind and allow it to exist in the moment at hand.

benefits to coloring

Creating Mindfulness

Meditation is a great way to calm the mind in a moment, but mindfulness adds another layer that allows the mind to process thoughts and feelings. Without the ability to create the necessary space for purposeful reflection, the mind can become stuck in a loop that focuses on the negativities and difficulties of the past. This can cause a person to search for ways of breaking the cycle in unhealthy ways, which can make the turn to substances easy. Coloring creates the openness the mind needs to process emotions in the moment rather than continuing to perpetuate them with unsettled thoughts.

Expressing Oneself Freely

Recovery can be a lonely process for many. Distancing yourself from others can create feelings of isolation and limit the way you express yourself. Through intentional thoughts and choices in color patterns, the feelings one experiences internally can be expressed in new and unique ways. They can be kept to yourself or viewed by others who may be able to more easily understand the complicated journey you are on.


Recovery is a difficult process that is filled with many obstacles and challenges, and it can often feel like a punishment for engaging in an activity you once enjoyed. In addition, you may have given up many things you liked doing during active addiction. That’s why there is such power of entertainment, joy, and playfulness within the recovery process. When you color, childhood memories rediscover their place in the forefront of the mind, where it isn’t just about coloring inside the lines but the joy of creation and expression. This can help to reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety commonly associated with recovery.

Get Started With Coloring Pages

Improved Concentration

With substance use disorders often comes panic and anxiety. These can cause the mind to race and lose focus on the task at hand. Coloring is a low-stress opportunity to regain the focus and concentration needed for other tasks.

Better Sleep

For many people with substance use disorders, including those in recovery, sleep is difficult. Whether it is the result of the aforementioned racing mind, the stress of the potential for relapse, or simply as a side effect of the substance or its withdrawals, sleep can be limited in both quality and quantity. Fortunately, coloring can help calm the mind, which promotes sleep. Much like those who enjoy reading before bed as a way to encourage the brain to rest, those who enjoy coloring may find that it creates an atmosphere conducive to sleep.

Get Started With Coloring Pages

Whether you are taking the recommendation of your mental health and recovery professionals or you want to explore other opportunities to aid in your personal growth throughout recovery, discovering the power of color and creation may be the light to bring you from the darkness. Here are a few ways specific types of coloring pages can help you during the recovery process. Read up so that you can find the one that may be right for you. We even have a few free samples to help start your art therapy journey.

Recovery Themed Coloring Pages

In recent years, we’ve found a number of coloring books tailored to those in recovery. Often filled with positive messages and words of affirmation, the design and style of each page allow artists the opportunity to express themselves while absorbing important messages for the recovery journey. For example, on days when recovery is more difficult, you may choose to incorporate shades of grays and blacks.

On days when finding the light is more necessary, you may turn to the powers of yellows and oranges. No matter what color choices are made, these types of coloring pages allow a dual focus on art therapy and positive thinking. They help you focus your mind on creativity and creation while also taking in the words and making connections with the images. With the help of recovery coloring pages, you may be able to center your thoughts on your recovery journey.

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Recovery Themed Coloring Pages

Sobriety & Recovery Coloring Pages

Like recovery coloring pages, sober coloring pages provide a creative outlet for managing the difficulties associated with substance use. Found in a variety of options from serious to bold to humorous, sober coloring pages can build upon the unique perspectives associated with recovering from substance use disorders. With each color choice or design element, there are opportunities to express what is on your mind, and if you discuss your art with others, you can draw on the support of those around you.

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Sobriety & Recovery Coloring Pages

Mandala Coloring Pages

Mandalas are derived from Buddhism and are designed using a pattern of geometric shapes, often incorporating a circle as a part of the design or in its overall shape. Many people may be familiar with these artistic designs because Buddhist monks famously create them as a way to meditate and bring calm and peace. Often, these elaborate designs are scratched into the sand. However, just like most ideas throughout the world, it has now become a widespread form of art used in various cultures.

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Mandala Coloring Pages

A notable psychological study has found that mandalas can help reduce anxiety levels. In the study, free-form coloring was compared to mandala coloring over a 20-minute period. It concluded that those who colored mandalas were able to reduce anxiety levels more easily within that time.

Mandalas were the subject of psychological study in the first place due to the amount of anecdotal evidence to that effect. In fact, Carl Jung knew the benefits of mandalas early on and concluded that they are useful in reducing stress and anxiety because the process was rooted in the subconscious. He also believed that coloring allowed individuals to reconnect with basic cognitive abilities. The research shows that coloring mandalas certainly can be a valuable tool in processing the trauma and other forms of distress that are often experienced by those with substance use disorders.

Creating the Colors of Your Life

Substance use disorder can seem like it’s eliminated the best things from your life, including hobbies, connections, and joys. The ability to navigate emotions, traumas, and even interpersonal relationships can become nonexistent as substance use begins to take all the energy you once had for these important aspects of life. Often, putting off facing these challenges for months or years, living in the darkness can feel like it is the only option. Together, the removal of joy and the persistence of the negative impacts of substance use can cause your world to become a gray, shadowed blur. Recreating the colors of your life by using coloring pages can illuminate new ways of thinking, improve focus, reduce stress, and even help create the space you need to truly see your authentic self inside.

Art therapies

Trauma, substance use disorders, and other mental health struggles do not define a person. They are simply difficulties we must address. Art therapies like coloring can allow the expression necessary to create the mind’s freedom. It isn’t about coloring inside or outside the lines, choosing the right colors, or creating a museum piece; it is about the process, the peace it provides, and the ability to speak in colors and express yourself through a universal language.

Whether you choose to start with one of our free coloring pages or decide to explore one of the many coloring books available online, your substance use disorder recovery can benefit from tools as simple as a box of crayons, a pack of colored pencils, or a box of markers. The same tools you used when you discovered how colors can express who you are or when you first started coloring outside the lines can now help you bring back your light and create the colors of your world.

For more information about recovery and resources to help you maintain your recovery journey, ECHO Recovery is here to help. Our recovery community is dedicated to creating awareness and sharing resources to help end the negative influence of harmful substances in so many lives.


  1. Bobby, J. (2022, August 15). Mental health benefits of coloring. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/coloring-is-good-for-your-health#:~:text=Coloring%20is%20a%20healthy%20way
  2. Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? Art Therapy, 22(2), 81–85. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441
  3. Coloring is not just for kids! (n.d.). CHE Behavioral Health Services. Retrieved May 10, 2024, from https://www.cheservices.com/blog/coloring-is-not-just-for-kids#:~:text=He%20stated%2C%20%E2%80%9CColour%20is%20the
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, October 20). Substance Use Disorder (SUD): Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16652-drug-addiction-substance-use-disorder-sud
  5. ‌Blume, N. (n.d.). Exploring the Mandala. Asia Society. https://asiasociety.org/exploring-mandala#:~:text=Mandalas%20are%20Buddhist%20devotional%20images
  6. American Art Therapy Association. (2022). About Art Therapy. American Art Therapy Association. https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/
Art Journaling to help with Recovery

Art Journaling Prompts for People in Recovery

Every road to recovery is unique. While there are general tools and support systems, nearly everyone can benefit from, finding a therapeutic technique that you truly click with can provide the best benefits for maintaining and thriving in a sober lifestyle.

Self-discovery and self-reflection are two critical aspects of recovery. When a person is struggling with a substance use disorder, they often neglect their true physical, mental, and emotional needs. Who they are becomes defined by the substance. Developing the ability to look internally and reflect on what you find is key to regaining your sense of personhood. In recovery, finding yourself again can be a difficult but rewarding process.

Consider Journaling for Recovery

One useful tool for rediscovering yourself during recovery is the concept of journaling. There is no wrong way to journal, and the most effective way for you to journal can vary depending on your personal style. Some individuals prefer to write in an open format, jotting down their day and experiences. Others like to have specific prompts that get them thinking about life and sobriety.

Another option that is growing in popularity is art journaling. Art journaling for addiction recovery provides an opportunity for you to partake in self-reflection while also tapping into your creative side. If you’re in recovery, art journaling can help you find inspiration and purpose as you move forward on your sober journey.

Art Journaling for Addiction Recovery

Art journaling is one of many forms of art for recovery. Art therapy is an effective tool for helping individuals with substance use disorders explore their feelings without fear of judgment or confrontation. In the early stages of recovery, there are often many emotions that rise to the surface after having been suppressed by drugs or alcohol.

Facing these deep emotions can be overwhelming, especially as recovery is beginning. However, the ability to face and move on from these emotions is key to maintaining recovery long-term. Art journaling provides an opportunity to use creativity to access emotions and begin to understand the root cause of traumas.

So what is an art journal? Also referred to as a visual journal, an art journal functions much like a traditional journal. With traditional journaling, you are writing down your thoughts and feelings. With an art journal, you are expressing yourself through sketches, doodles, drawings, clips of pictures and magazines, and any other way that you can creatively collect your thoughts and feelings.

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Requirements for Art Journaling

Fortunately, you do not need to be a great artist to benefit from participating in art journaling. Just like traditional journaling, this is a practice that is designed to be personal and will be seen only by you and those you wish to share with. There are no right or wrong ways to journal, and there is no worry that your work will be judged or criticized. The purpose of an art journal is to have an emotional outlet that works for you.

For many, putting into words how you’re feeling and what you are experiencing can be too difficult. In that instance, drawing what you are experiencing may provide the outlet needed. As with traditional journaling, though, consistency is key. You’ll want to consider a mode of creativity that makes sense for daily reflection. Larger artistic projects such as sculpting or painting can be therapeutic, but a journal is more of a daily tool that can change with your moods and feelings.

Benefits of Art Journaling for Addiction Recovery

Art journaling can provide numerous benefits for individuals in any stage of addiction recovery. Journaling can be a helpful tool in recovery because it allows people to explore their deepest emotions without fear of judgment or criticism. Journaling can help uncover triggers, which in turn can help people face those triggers to avoid relapse. Journaling also adds a bit of routine to a person’s day, which can help them develop a schedule conducive to sober living.

There are other major benefits of art journaling, and understanding them can help you decide if art journaling may be a good fit for your needs.


People in recovery often need to slowly tear down walls that took years to build. This is because when a person has a substance use disorder, they tend to isolate themselves from others. Many people don’t want their addiction to be apparent, so they hide their true selves and develop a defense mechanism when people try to get too close. Addiction can also provoke feelings of shame, which further hinders the ability to be authentic and honest.

Art journaling is a safe medium for facing instead of suppressing emotions. This can be beneficial in recovery because suppressing emotions can negatively impact mental, emotional, and physical health. Art journaling presents an opportunity to be authentic with your deepest thoughts and feelings at a pace that is comfortable for you.


Expressing yourself through any medium can feel liberating, and this is especially true in recovery. For example, when you vent to a friend about something that is bothering you, you usually feel lighter and have better clarity about the situation. In the same way, art journaling can help you free your emotions at your leisure.

Opening up in recovery can be challenging, which is why art journaling can be so beneficial. This form of therapy allows you to release negative emotions, evaluate your thoughts, understand the problems you are facing, and participate in a creative opportunity that you enjoy.


Art journaling is designed to help you uncover long-buried emotions, but it is also designed to help you develop an understanding of yourself. Especially for individuals in recovery, finding yourself again can feel overwhelming. For months, if not years, substance use has defined who you are, but finding yourself again can be facilitated through art journaling. You can rediscover who you are, what you enjoy, and what brings you happiness. This is a vital tool for self-care.

Goals and Intentions

Recovery should be a time when people move on from the behaviors, thought patterns, and destructive activities of the past. For that reason, recovery is about setting goals, large and small, that help keep you motivated and focused on what you want from the process. An art journal is the perfect way to visualize your goals. You can draw positive goals and outcomes you would like to see in your future.

Supplies you might use in Art Journaling Projects

How to Start an Art Journal

When you are considering starting an art journal, it can be beneficial to first think about the way you would normally take notes. Do you like to work with colors or keep it simple? Do you prefer handwriting your notes or using a digital platform? These questions can help you determine what kind of art journal would be best for you. To get started:

Gather Materials

It is helpful to have a dedicated notebook for your sobriety art journal. Since art can demand more than a single piece of paper, use a visual-journal-specific notebook, or consider purchasing thicker paper. You’ll also want to round up your preferred art materials. This can include paint, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, pencil sharpener, and anything else you might need to create your work. If you would prefer to create digitally, look into platforms and programs that would allow you to easily access your art and keep it organized.

Journal with a Plan and Purpose

Art journaling is a way to release your inner thoughts and feelings without rules and restrictions. However, you may want to consider setting yourself some basic boundaries, especially at first, since getting into this process can feel overwhelming. It is easy to overthink your art journal, essentially putting it on hold before you can even begin.

To help, you may want to make some decisions before you start, such as what medium you prefer, which colors you want to use, and even how large your project will be.

Find a Topic

Specific art journaling ideas aren’t always necessary. Oftentimes, you’ll find inspiration from daily experiences, persistent thoughts, or familiar feelings that you want to express. However, some days, finding a topic can be more of a challenge. On these days, a great list of potential journal prompts can come in handy. Prompts are a great way to ease into the practice of art journaling and could offer a source of inspiration you wouldn’t consider on your own.

Get Creative

Once you have all the materials you need, a prompt or focus, and have set boundaries on how you want to create, you are ready to get creative. There are endless possibilities when it comes to art therapy. Your journal is designed for you, so use it as you need.

Art Journaling Prompts for Addiction Recovery

Art Journaling Prompts for Addiction Recovery

To get you started, we have compiled a list of prompts that have helped others get the most from their art journal. Prompts are a great way to explore topics you might not consider yourself and can be great to have handy on days when inspiration feels lacking.

  • Draw a place you feel safe – Especially for people in recovery, safe places, and people can feel limited. Drawing a place where you feel safe, whether it be real or imaginary, can help in moments of fear or anxiety. Identifying a place that is safe is the best way to improve your ability to get vulnerable with yourself and others.
  • Use colors to express your current emotions – Sometimes, words fall short when you’re trying to express deep or confusing emotional states. As mentioned, too, in early recovery, emotions can be intense and difficult to navigate. Instead of trying to write out what you’re feeling, simply choose a color that you feel best represents that emotion. Your canvas could have one or many colors that represent what is going on at that moment.
  • Where are you today compared to six months or a year ago? – Art journaling can also work as a great tool for self-reflection in the future. You can revisit this prompt, taking note of the control and understanding you may have developed toward your emotions since that point. In this way, journaling can be a marker of your progress.
  • Create a collage that represents your journey – Collages can be a great way to express yourself artistically without stressing about your ability to draw or paint. You can use photographs you already have, print out pictures from the web, or even flip through old magazines to find inspiration. Collages are a great way to create a work that represents where your life is now, as well as create a vision for the future.
  • Create a self-portrait – This is another great prompt that can be revisited throughout your sober journey. You can draw how you see yourself now, how you saw yourself in the past, or how you would like to see yourself in the future. You can choose to be realistic or get creative with your appearance.

Tips for Art Journaling

To get the most out of journaling, it is recommended to make creating in your journal part of your regular routine. Journaling on a regular basis is beneficial for self-reflection and dealing with the various emotional triggers you can face on a daily basis. It also provides an outlet when you need it, whether you’ve had a great day or a difficult one.

We also suggest that you consider keeping your art journal private or being careful about who you choose to share it with. The purpose of an art journal is to allow you to explore difficult, deep emotions and struggles you may face in your healing journey. Even individuals with the best intentions could make a comment that strikes you the wrong way, opening the door for regression when it comes to honesty and vulnerability. Like a diary, an art journal is designed for your eyes only.

You should also consider experimenting with different mediums. Working with different mediums presents a healthy challenge and can prevent feelings of repetition and boredom. You may even discover you have a knack and passion for a certain previously undiscovered medium.

Suggested Reading: Art Journaling Ideas

Creativity Supports Addiction Recovery

Skilled artists and interested beginners alike can find healing and a sense of self through art journaling. While any type of journaling is personal, confidential, and judgment-free, art journaling can be more accessible than written journaling for many people. It also allows people to explore their deepest emotions, navigate triggers, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. See our Art for Recovery resource for more information and support.

If you’re in recovery, consider art journaling as a way to get creative while exploring yourself in your new life, expanding beyond the written word to truly express yourself on a whole different level. The best part? You don’t have to consider yourself artistic to benefit from art journaling. All you need is a willingness to try, a few tools, and a commitment to making it part of your daily routine. Visit our Art Corner to find artists, classes, and more.

Is Painting a Form of Meditation?

Is Painting a Form of Meditation?

Painting can be a fantastic way to help yourself develop an inner focus—in fact, people often find they lose track of time because they become completely immersed in the painting process.

Painting as a Form of Meditation

Meditating through art is a real and powerful method of practicing meditation. In fact, meditation through artistic endeavors can come in a variety of forms, and painting is just one of them. Painting in and of itself is a process that slows down the mind and body, helping you transport yourself to a place of peace and stability. It takes your mind away from the anxious, repetitive thoughts that you might have and focuses your energy into something much more calming.

If you’re like many people in recovery, it can feel impossible to turn off your anxious and repetitive thoughts. While painting, many people find that the mind slowly quiets as they lose themselves in the calming process. This inspires a state of relaxation and meditation, often without the painter realizing what’s occurring.

How Do You Meditate While Painting?

Meditative painting can be achieved.

To get started:

Focus Your Energy

One of the most important aspects of meditation involves focusing your energy into one area, so that you can then release it and achieve a clear mind. Consider how stressful life can be on a daily basis. It can be all too easy to let your mind run wild with anxious thoughts without becoming aware of how stressed you truly are.

With painting, you can focus your energy and anxious thoughts on the piece in front of you and use it as an outlet for those feelings. This helps to keep away stray intrusive thoughts and allows you to take a moment to calm down and be at peace with yourself. By focusing your energy into one place and working through obstacles through painting, you are meditating.

Slow Down and Find Peace

Slowing down can be difficult for anyone in our busy society. Whether it’s your busy schedule or the pressure that feeling unproductive can put on you, it can be hard to take time to relax. Painting can not only help you take some much-needed time for yourself, but it is an affordable, easy, and fun hobby.

It’s also a practice that helps people with restless minds finally find some peace and slow down enough to reach a meditative state. This ability to slow down and stop overthinking during meditation is a crucial tool to have while you recover. It’s one of many mindfulness techniques.

Clear Your Mind

Painting allows people to clear their minds, many times without even realizing it. This occurs because people often get into what is known as a “flow.” “Flowing” is a term used to describe becoming fully immersed in an activity, to the point where you feel almost mesmerized. This flow is what helps make painting a form of meditation, as some people really struggle to fully immerse themselves and clear their minds from their current thoughts. Actively clearing your mind before beginning can help ensure you find your flow.

The Benefits of Meditation During Recovery

Meditation is a frequently cited recovery tool for a reason—it can not only help you work your way through SUD treatment, but it can also help reduce your risk of relapse. In fact, meditation has many benefits for those in recovery.

Painting Provides a Healthy Coping Mechanism

Building healthy coping mechanisms is an essential aspect of recovery. When you get overwhelmed, it can seem far too easy to resort back to old methods that may have led to your substance use in the first place. Developing healthy coping mechanisms instead, including meditation through painting, can help you fight urges to relapse as well as help you calm down during anxious times.

Painting is Both a Hobby and a Form of Self Care

Painting for Self Care

Self-care is another vital part of your journey to recovery. Simple things like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and investing time in activities that make you happy are all forms of self-care that can help you heal. Painting is something anyone can do, which is why it makes such a great form of self-care for anyone who needs to spend more time on themselves, including those in recovery.

Hobbies are important too, not only because they are a form of self-care, but because they can take your focus away from stressors and put it into something you care about. Painting and meditating are just a few of the ways you can take care of yourself during recovery.

Painting Can Help Increase Self-Awareness

Building self-awareness can be a difficult skill to master. This is because it involves recognizing various aspects of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and other features of the self. Self-awareness is important during recovery because it helps you to evaluate how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. By being self-aware, you take the time to process your feelings and thoughts instead of acting on them immediately. Painting can help you meditate and spend time with yourself, and as a result, you can strengthen your self-awareness skills.

Painting Is a Stress and Anxiety Reliever

Painting is also an amazing stress and anxiety reliever. It’s a hobby that requires no skill and allows you to build a flow with the paint and the canvas or paper. As mentioned, flowing is what makes painting such a great stress and anxiety reliever—this feeling of being in flow with your work can help take you away from even the most stressful of thoughts. Painting is also an activity that doesn’t require a great deal of physical or mental work unless you really want it to, so you can easily paint at times when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Painting Reduces Burnout

Burnout is the result of feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed. Burnout can happen both before and during recovery, which is why it’s so important to practice self-care. Whether you’re overwhelmed from work, recovery, or life in general, having an outlet to relieve your stress, utilize a healthy coping strategy, and deal with your feelings can help you immensely.

This is why so many people are turning to painting. Sometimes, to prevent burnout, all you need is some time to let your mind become free. Painting helps you focus your energy and calm you down without tiring you out or making you feel worse.

Embrace Art as a Form of Meditation in Recovery

Art and Meditation in Recovery

Recovery can be difficult to say the least, and finding healthy coping mechanisms, activities, and stress-relievers is essential throughout the process. Art is an incredible tool that can help you in many ways. Whether you just began your journey to recovery or you have been in recovery for years, painting can serve as a form of self-care and an outlet for meditation. Show your support of the arts and recovery by reading our Art in Recovery series.



Discover How Performing Arts Helps With Mental Health

Discover How Performing Arts Helps With Mental Health: An Interview With Dr. Bob

Meet Robert “Bob” Willenbrink, Ph.D. We met Bob online through our connections in the local arts. Bob is the Executive Director for The Maryland Center for the Arts and first contacted us when he learned about our Art Corner and plans for future Art Events in the Baltimore, Maryland area.

His friends call him Dr. Bob and, since we’re all friends, we invite you to call him Dr. Bob too!

Dr. Bob is a storyteller. He loves telling stories because they allow you to share your thoughts and your feelings and they bring you joy! And, he thinks one of the best ways to bring joy to stories is to add music to them. So, he wrote a song to share his own story with you.

You might not know him yet, but after the song we think you’ll know him a little better.

Listen to Dr. Bob joyfully share his story with you through music in his video:

More About Dr. Bob and Performing Arts

As you can see (hear!), Dr. Bob has been on quite the journey! He holds his Ph.D. from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University.

He was the Founding Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Missouri Western State University. Most recently he was the Department Head and Producer/Director for Missouri State’s Equity Tent Theatre, before moving to Maryland and joining The Maryland Center for the Arts.

Dr. Bob began his career in the arts back at Hazard (Kentucky) Community where he founded the Hazard Summer Playhouse and served for many years as Chair and Director of Theatre at the University of Central Arkansas. During his time there he also created the Youth Theatre of Central Arkansas, was the national director of the ARC Performing Arts Institute for disabled artists, and founded ACTS, a theatre performance troupe for disabled performers.

Additionally, he served as chair of Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region VI, the Kentucky Humanities Council board, a director and first vice-president of the Jenny Wiley Theatre, and as the artistic director for the Kincaid Regional Theatre.

He has directed over 85 different live productions of various styles at a number of venues in the United States.

He received the Kennedy Center Bronze Medallion for Service and the Distinguished Creative Production Award at Morehead State University.

He’s had a pretty amazing career, right?

How the Performing Arts Helps With Mental Health

Dr.BobWe sat with Dr. Bob to learn more about his amazing life and career, hear his thoughts on how performing arts can help with mental health and how we can work together to help more people discover the healing benefits of the arts.

Here is our interview with Dr. Bob.


ECHO: Thanks for doing this interview with us Dr. Bob!

Dr. Bob: You are more than welcome. I feel like it is a privilege to work with ECHO, a dedicated, caring group and it is an honor to contribute

ECHO: We loved your story. What inspired you to create and share the video?

Dr. Bob: Actually I wrote the first version of the song several years ago. I used to introduce myself to the students in the classes that I taught. Of course it has evolved as I have grown and changed. The tune is similar but the words and thoughts have changed as the audience changed and my life has changed. It remains a great way to tell my story.

ECHO: Can you tell us more about The Maryland Center for the Arts and what you do there?

Dr. Bob: The Maryland center for the Arts is an organization whose  mission is to provide a broad range of creative and collaborative experiences in quality education, presentations, and exhibits in all disciplines of the arts; and to build and operate a visual and performing arts center for the region to have greater access to quality spaces to exhibit, present, and participate in the arts.

ECHO: When you heard about the ECHO Foundation and our mission to help artists in recovery, what made you want to get involved?

Dr. Bob: I have worked with other groups and was co-founder of a group calle ACTS or Acting Creates Therapeutic Success. When I heard about ECHO, their goals and mission seemed similar to ACTS and my vision, so I thought I might be able to contribute in some way.

ECHO: In your experience, how does art help with mental health?

Dr. Bob: Absolutely. The arts are a way to open the mind and the heart. To think, to feel, to express your thoughts and ideas. It opens doors to communication with others. One of my favorite thoughts is that the arts lead us to discovering truths about ourselves.

ECHO: Do you feel performing art is therapeutic?

Dr. Bob: Without a doubt. The arts have the power to transform us. Art enables you to explore yourself and your feelings and understand the world around you. Expressing yourself through performing is a way to forget about your troubles and share with others. It speaks from the heart to the heart and helps us understand what it means to be alive and more importantly what it means to be human.

ECHO: Have you seen a change in our community through art programs?

Dr. Bob: The arts change all communities by engaging the people around us, friends. They educate and inspire all of us. It is a way for diverse communities to be inclusive and celebrate creativity and motivate each other to become better people and stronger communities.

ECHO: What’s coming up next for Maryland Center for the Arts?

Dr. Bob: We are working on several Projects including a Bluegrass Festival, TREES a camp for young people to learn about Trees and flora and turn that knowledge into a performance and art work, the Bayside dance Festival in August and then the Plein Air painting festival in September, the Step out dance party in October, and the Rejoice Choral Festival in December. So, as you can see, we are very busy at the Center.

Here is a link to the Maryland Center for the Arts website where you can view up and coming events: http://www.mdcenterforthearts.org

ECHO: How can the ECHO Foundation partner with Maryland Center for the Arts to bring more events and awareness of the arts to the community?

Dr. Bob: The ECHO Foundation can encourage people to attend events and participate as an audience member. If ECHO wants to form a performing troupe, we should partner and develop a first class experience for performer and audience. I am ready and willing.

ECHO: Is there anything else you want us to know about your story and how the arts have helped you in your own life?

Dr. Bob: I have always been interested in the arts. They are my release when I am stressed, my comfort when I am sad. Most importantly, it helps me celebrate the good things and people in my life. The arts are important to me leading a happy and productive life. They inspire and motivate me every day.

ECHO: Thanks again for sharing your story with us, Dr. Bob. We appreciate you and all you do!

Art Allows Us To Be In The Moment

As Susan Cook, Director of UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music said:

“Engaging with the arts… provides solace, awakens curiosity and allows us to be in the moment with our thoughts and feelings. It reminds us of our essential humanity and so often brings us the kinds of beauty so necessary in times of struggle.”

If you want to share your story with us or get involved in some way, please reach out! We rely on donors, volunteers and community support to keep our cause going. Every little bit helps!