Home Art Therapy and Therapeutic Scrapbooking (Thesis) Results and Discussion


Because of the popularity of scrapbooking and its potential for exploring and integrating visual memory, it would seem very appropriate to include therapeutic scrapbooking as a part of one’s therapeutic practice. The familiar nature of scrapbooking can be helpful in the therapeutic setting as it can reduce a client’s anxiety. Some clients are resistant to creating their own drawings or paintings since they feel they do not have the necessary skills or talents; but with therapeutic scrapbooking, this fear can be resolved with materials that provide a familiar and easy way for creating items.

The physicality of the materials used seems to be helpful when dealing with some issues. Looking at the materials themselves for example, the researcher has successfully used various textures of paper in order to engage an autistic male. She also engaged another autistic male through the use of rubber stamps to create patterns of images. The researcher also found that the bright paper which is available through scrapbook suppliers has been helpful with people who have visual impairments. The process required to work with the materials may also have therapeutic benefits. For example, the researcher has noted that the pounding of eyelets and snaps can have a soothing effect on those with issues of aggression. Lastly, the researcher has noted that displaying the finished page seems to promote self-esteem in some clients.

Art therapy uses the client’s own drawings, paintings, collage or 3D art work to process emotions, memories, or thoughts. Therapeutic scrapbooking can use the same media but also incorporates journaling, photographs, and memorabilia. Although most therapeutic scrapbooking in the literature does not include 3D images, the scrapbooking hobby has developed into using canvas, old books, and other materials to create 3D items. Other items can be altered by using scrapbook techniques. The hobby of scrapbooking incorporates card making, mini-books, and artist trading cards (ATCs). Therapeutic scrapbooking can also include the making of these items. Although most scrapbook paper is 12”x 12”, there is some available that is 24”x 24”. Scrapbooking can be done in any size from 1”x 1” ‘deco squares’ to 24”x 24,” or even larger. Appendix A lists some media that are used in the scrapbook process and Appendix B lists some useful tools.

In art therapy, the focus is jointly on the process of doing the work and of discussing the end product. In therapeutic scrapbooking, the focus is also on the process. While the final result may or may not be visually pleasing, just as in more traditional art therapy approaches, the memories, thoughts, and feelings evoked can be discussed and resolved.

Given the familiar nature of scrapbooking and its popularity in the general public, it would seem that therapeutic scrapbooking is a useful tool for one to have in one’s art therapy practice. Lastly, the medium used in scrapbooking seems to have a therapeutic value as it is easily manipulated and readily available.


Therapeutic scrapbooking is being used by many different populations including children, families, youth, women, and the elderly. There is a significant amount of literature that discusses the effectiveness of this technique. However, there is inadequate research on the use of this technique with males. Statistically, scrapbooking is a female hobby and perhaps this fact has resulted in a stereotype that has made scrapbooking a more difficult mode of treatment for males. Only one article noted specifically addressed male clients, especially younger boys. Some of the work that the researcher has done included using this treatment technique with older men. The men particularly enjoyed working with die-cut tools in which a die was placed on a platform and a level pushed resulting in a cut-out image. They exclaimed that it was similar to woodworking tools they were familiar with. However, it seems apparent that further research is necessary to determine the relevance of this type of therapy for males.

There is also little information on the use therapeutic scrapbooking with the mentally challenged. As the concerns of this group are similar to all others groups, one can conclude that they would benefit from this mode of treatment. Some of the work the researcher has done with the mentally challenged at L’Arche Vancouver included the making of a scrapbook. Photos were taken of a story some of these people acted out, and the photos and the story’s narrative were put together in a scrapbook form. Altogether, four people with various disabilities were working at different times on the scrapbook. Disabilities included developmental delays, but some also with physical limitations. The scrapbook work included decorating the pages, gluing in pictures and the story’s narrative, punching the holes and threading the pages together into a book format. Discussion centered on the general experience of scrapbooking as well as the specific experience shown in the photos.

More research needs to be done to establish the usefulness of this therapeutic treatment with individuals as much of the research to date has centered on group settings. Only one article discussed how to adjust the therapy for individuals instead of groups. But certainly it seems that evidence shows that therapeutic scrapbooking is a useful treatment for almost all population groups.

Treatment issues for those using therapeutic scrapbooking are various. This approach is currently being used to treat those suffering from: grief and loss; chemical dependence; depression; Alzheimer’s disease; trauma related issues; abuse issues; cancer; career planning; terminal illness; physical disabilities; mental illness; head injuries; memory work; adoption issue; improvement of self- image, and increase of self-esteem. The scope of the problems that can benefit from therapeutic scrapbooking described in the literature is very wide. It seems that this mode of therapy could be incorporated into many other issues that may arise, and are not yet researched. As in any treatment, of course, the mode of that treatment must meet the client’s needs.

Also, therapeutic scrapbooking is being used in many different locations and with many different types of counselors or therapists, in hospital settings, senior’s homes, in general practice, by child life workers, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, play therapists, and nurses. There is, however, a lack of research that studies this kind of treatment by art therapists.

Therapeutic scrapbooking fits concurrently with other therapies. The fatherbook, the resolution scrapbook, and the narrative scrapbook are examples that use therapeutic scrapbooking as the principal means of treatment; but other treatment models as well may also be relevant. Also, the process of creating life books involves a technique similar to therapeutic scrapbooking. A child can include photos, memorabilia, drawings, and other suitable items deemed important to him/her. Art therapists can enhance the therapeutic aspect of creating these books.

In using story books in family therapy, the family works together to create the book. Although the authors do not look upon their work as a scrapbook, the result is essentially the same. One issue confronted was the prospect of the adult’s resistance to making one’s own drawings and pictures; yet this concern can be overcome by using photographs.

Reminiscence or life review therapy can easily be transformed into therapeutic scrapbooking. The use of photographs is discussed in the articles, and photographs can additionally used to create new layouts with the elderly. This procedure would likely reinforce the therapy process.

It seems that given the range of issues and populations that can benefit from therapeutic scrapbooking, it would be beneficial to include it into one’s therapeutic practice