The Theraputic Value Of Scrapbooking     
by Kathy Johnson

I have been a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant for 16 years and have worked with many different types of physical disabilities and clients with mental illness. When I started scrapbooking 8 years ago, I never realized what a therapeutic value it could have on my life. As the years have gone by I have also recognized the therapeutic values scrapbooking can have for those many different types of physical disabilities and those with mental illness. I have discovered that scrapbooking has many qualities that can help restore an overall sense of well-being, accomplishment, and self-worth, as well as help with physical deficits. Taking photos of loved ones and creating a scrapbook not only showcases familiar photos, but can also display feelings and memorabilia. It is not only the actual “scrapbooking” of pictures, but the memories the pictures reveal, that can be of great value.
I made a 25th Wedding Anniversary album for my parents and which included photos from their childhood as well as photos from the time since they were married. What I learned from rummaging through all these old photos was an invaluable lesson in family heritage. There were places they had been, and family members I did not know and events that were unknown to me until I sorted through these photos and interviewed my parents. The end result was a wonderful memento of their lives and a keepsake we could all cherish and share for generations to come.
Individuals with depression can find comfort in scrapbooking memories from the past. Using the scrapbooking task as a way to help individuals with mental illness stay on task, follow directions and reinforce the need to complete a project are all valuable Life Skills they will need to be productive individuals in the community. Many with mental illness have a sense of hopelessness and low self-worth. Scrapbooking can provide these individuals with a great sense of accomplishment.

The physical benefits of scrapbooking became evident to me while working with a young brain injured individual in Rehab. This person used the cropping tools to increase her fine motor skills, as well as the photos to help with memory recall of loved ones and others from her life. Cutting with scissors or a paper trimmer and handwriting journaling helps build good fine motor skills as does using shapes and stencils. Visual/perceptual skills are also utilized with the activity.

Following directions of the therapist or using an idea book help with organizing thoughts and following verbal and written instruction. The organization skills needed to complete a scrapbook page can assist a head injured individual with the skills needed in many aspects of their life, from Activities of Daily Living to work skills for returning to employment. The step by step tasks of building a scrapbook page allow the individual to process information and put the steps together to form a completed task. Then putting all the pages together to form a completed scrapbook reinforces the idea of task completion and the overall understanding of getting an end product from their labor of love.

Overall the craft of scrapbooking can be therapeutic to all of us in some way. The companies that create scrapbooking supplies and tools are often coming out with easier and less complex ways to create scrapbooks. Someone with limited hand motion or cognitive skills can learn to master this wonderful craft with minimal guidance. I highly recommend scrapbooking as a therapeutic tool for anyone and hope that if you know someone who would reap its benefits, you will pass your love of this art form on to them.

Kathy Johnson, COTA
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and
Crop Camp Coordinator

About the Author
Kathy is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and avid scrapbooker for the past 8 years. She lives in Kansas and works in a small hospital full time, and scrapbooks any time she gets the chance. See more about Kathy at
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