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Interview with Renowned Psychotherapist & Recovery Clinical Advisor Rokelle Lerner

By Bridget Campos, 4/1/2016

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How adults are ‘coloring their world’ by recapturing nostalgic childhood moments through coloring books

One of the hottest trends of adult coloring books has truly captured the public’s attention in a big way, not only for its calming effects but also showing off a person’s creative side. Many therapists, including Family Psychotherapist, Dr. Rokelle Lerner, believes that adult coloring can boost health benefits and decrease social anxiety. In a recent interview, Dr. Lerner said, “There isn’t a culture in the world that doesn’t use art as a healing tool, except for the Western culture, but we are catching up.”

Despite there being quite a number of theme coloring books to choose from, many enjoy the ones that cater to a particular group such as those facing recovery from various addictions. “Folks in recovery from alcohol, drugs, gambling, or shopping and have been through treatment, what do you replace that addiction with once it has been taken away? That’s what my particular adult coloring book focuses on. When someone sits and colors, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system begins to calm down. I think creative arts like singing, dancing, and artwork is a really important contribution for both men and women in recovery,” said Dr. Lerner. 

When asked about why so many people find this hobby of adult coloring as a form of “self-care”? Dr. Lerner stated, “Because we live in a rush around society, some don’t take the time to do something for themselves, whether it is coloring, reading, or other forms of soothing taking the time to use color and the vibration of color it helps a person to focus and put on the brakes.”

Though Dr. Lerner’s coloring book is directed towards people facing recovery, those not facing addiction can also enjoy her book, as well. “As a Psychotherapist, I’ve worked with a lot of people that never got the chance to be children. Some grew up in traumatic circumstances that they never got a chance to play or be creative. But what we know about the brain is that it is never too late. If you missed out on that part of your childhood there is what we call neuroplasticity, because the brain keeps changing. So when you expand your creativity, it affects feelings where you are neither hyped up, nor checked out, but you’re in what we call 'the optimal zone' where the dopamine secretes into the brain and causes a calming effect,” said Dr. Lerner.


Inkspirations for Recovery: A Coloring Companion that Celebrates and Supports Living One Day at a Time contains affirmations, inspirational quotes from respected leaders and artists from the past, and many unique art designs including beautiful mandalas created by illustrator Judy Clement Wall.

 “The artwork was really in Judy’s court. I wanted to make sure her drawings had to do with the recovery theme involving serenity and letting go. I’m excited about the designs she created. Even though they are drawings, I encourage people to draw outside the lines if they want to. Be creative with it,” added Dr. Lerner.

A pioneer in both cutting edge treatment for children and adult children of alcoholics and counseling on relationship matters, Dr. Rokelle Lerner is also the author of the best-selling book, The Object of My Affection Is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists. And has provided her expertise on such television shows as Oprah, Good Morning America, and 20/20  and was even listed in Esquire magazine’s “Top 100 Women in the US Who are Changing the Nation.” But her most recent accomplishment is working as the Senior Clinical Advisor for Crossroads Recovery in Antigua-- a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center created in 1998 by legendary artist Eric Clapton.

When asked about her new job that’s located on a tropical island, Dr Lerner stated, “What a fabulous place! I get to fly down to the Caribbean every month to this lovely place and the people there are amazing. Pinch me! (Laughs) It’s an absolute dream job.” She continued on, “Eric created this treatment center, which is really the only one of its kind that gives free treatment to people that live on that island—the Antiguans. Nobody is turned down for treatment there. It’s a world-class program. Because of the natural tranquility, when people arrive here they are astounded. I was hired at Crossroads Recovery to create a family program because addicts don’t recover in isolation. They need family members to heal along with them.”

Seeing the long-term success of recovering addicts is truly inspirational, unfortunately for some families it is a struggling battle to see their loved one, who is an addict, to never seek treatment because they refuse to admit they have a problem. The best advice Dr. Lerner could give is in order to get a family member to change you have to start at an individual level first. She said, “To put it in simplest terms, when you first get help for yourself, it’s almost contagious in that it has a rippling effect. I used to work with children, ages 5 to 12 , whose parents were addicts. We would teach them that they were not at fault for their parent’s addiction and though they can’t cure them, they could however; use coping strategies to seek help when they needed it. And when these kids would go home and gradually make behavioral changes for the better this made their parents want to change too by seeking treatment.” Dr. Lerner goes on to add, “The first step of admitting that you have an addiction is very important. If you don’t acknowledge the problem, you are powerless over it. And the likelihood of relapsing is great. But if the family doesn’t get help than the addict doesn’t really have much of a chance either. So again if you see a problem than go get help for yourself first by talking to somebody and things will gradually improve within the family dynamics.”         


Inkspirations for Recovery: A Coloring Companion that Celebrates and Supports Living One Day at a Time’ is available at retail & book stores now or go to