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Zentangle Art Therapy

By: Emily Zhang

In mental health fields, it’s not surprising to use music and free drawing to help calm down, relax and express inner feelings. Now a new art form, Zentangle, joins the psychology and mental health field.

Zentangle was introduced by Rick Roberts and Mary Thomas about 3 years ago. It uses simple lines and shade to draw patterns. People don’t need an arts background to start a zentangle. Even though it recommends using micro pens to draw on paper tiles, people can actually draw using any pen or pencil and draw on any kind of materials, including notebook, or index cards. 

Listed on the official zentangle website, through the Zentangle Method of drawing, you can

  • Relax
  • Focus
  • Increase your awareness
  • Respond confidently to the unexpected
  • Feel gratitude and appreciation for this beautiful world and all that you can do

This list matches a therapist’s need who wants to help their patients.

The repeating patterns gave creators a chance to meditate during drawing. With simple and repeating patterns drawing, people usually feel relaxed. The creator of zentangle describes, she feels “selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and a rich immersion in what she was doing – all classic aspects of a flow state” while drawing zentangles, which matches the traditional meditation method.

To officially draw a zentangle, it is recommended to draw on a small piece of paper. For example, a zentangle square is only 3.5” x 3.5”, and a zendala circle is about 4.5” diameter. With limited size, it’s easier for patients to finish a piece and they will feel achievement. It also helps people build up concentration on what they are doing.

Some doctors are also exploring this area of psychological treatment, using zentangle drawing for those with Parkinson’s disease or are going through trauma therapy.


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