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Spanish Congress: Part 1

Spanish Congress: Part 1

In 2021, we introduced you to CZT sisters Maria Tovar and Mercedes Perez from Spain, who were teaching the Zentangle Method to nurses at the Autónoma University in Madrid. We recently asked Maria for an update on the work they are doing and there is much to share! In this two-part series, we will share information from Maria Tovar and some of the nurses involved.


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Maria writes (traducción al español a continuación) ...

As a result of the COVID19 pandemic and its serious consequences worldwide, we have become aware of the importance of Mental Health, the eternally forgotten in social, political, and domestic environments. Isolation and "no relationship" during all this time, have taken their toll on our mental well-being, especially in vulnerable populations, adolescents, etc.

I am Maria Tovar CZT14 and together with my sister Mercedes Perez Crespo CZT EU2, we formed El Último Tangle, an online and on-site school, dedicated to the dissemination of the Zentangle® Method and the benefits of its regular practice. We became aware of the importance of mental health care a few years before COVID 19, due to different personal circumstances, and precisely because of the great help it was for ourselves in difficult times. Both the method, and its basic principles so extrapolated to the real world, helped us to incorporate the Zentangle routine into our lives and see first-hand its powerful and beneficial effects.

In 2016 we were fortunate to meet Ángela Iglesias, Supervising Nurse in charge of the Personality Disorders department at the Dr. Rodriguez Lafora Hospital in the Community of Madrid. Together we started a training program for the nurses of that hospital, convinced that the Zentangle Method could bring calm, relaxation, safety, and improved concentration to Mental Health patients. We have managed to extend the training in Zentangle practice to other mental health hospitals, both in Madrid and abroad (Gregorio Marañón Hospital, General Hospital of Talavera, Psychiatric Hospital of Vitoria, Day Centers, etc.) and in some of them, even working with patients and seeing first-hand how the method motivates them, helps them to improve their self-esteem, to develop their creativity, to not judge themselves so harshly, etc.

Through collaborations with Ángela de la Iglesia, we met Dr.Matilde Arlandis, head of the Mental Health course at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) of the Nursing Degree. From Matilde's hand, we began to participate in a Seminar on non-pharmacological treatments applied in mental health, a course that we have been teaching every May since 2018 to final year students of the Nursing Degree at the Autonomous University of Madrid. This year has been the fifth year of our participation. Also, at the UAM, we have taught Zentangle classes in the Master's Degree in Nursing Interventions in Vulnerable Populations. These students are the ones who then ask us to teach the Zentangle Method, both to patients and to health workers, from the different hospitals to which they go after their university studies.

The comments received from nursing students, collected in a survey conducted each year after the workshop practice, offer 100% satisfaction and arouse a lot of interest among them. Both for the novelty of the method and for the possibility of offering non-pharmacological alternatives to patients.

The "Zentangle and Mental Health" team is made up of a group of 5 people. Our Zentangle sessions, taught by Mercedes and myself in these health areas, are always accompanied by an introduction of nursing intervention carried out by Angela Iglesias and Ana Morales, from Dr. Rodriguez Lafora Hospital, as well as the support of Dr. Matilde Arlandis, from the Autonomous University of Madrid, the three aforementioned, and the three experts in mental health, dedicated to this field of medicine for many years. Our passion for the Method grows as we extend it, but we are still aware that we have a long way to go.

(From left to right: Maria Tovar, Dr. Matilde Arlandis, Ana Morales, Ángela Iglesias, Mercdes Perez Crespo)

This year the Zentangle and Mental Health team has been invited to participate, with a Zentangle workshop and a study on its continued practice with patients of the Doctor Rodriguez Lafora Hospital, in the National Congress of Mental Health Nursing (AEESME) held this year in Torremolinos, Spain. As a result of this congress, we are receiving requests to attend events in hospitals in other areas, such as the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country and now specifically the Mental Health Congress of the Community of Andalusia, which will be held this June in Cadiz.

Together with the company CAYPE we have been organizing for 2 years an International Zentangle Congress in the city of Vitoria, northern Spain. CAYPE has been involved from the first moment in supporting the dissemination of Zentangle, and organized by them, we have given several training workshops to mental health nurses from the psychiatric hospital of Vitoria, called Txagorritxu. We continue to count on their invaluable support and collaboration, we are very grateful to them. We are also very grateful to Rick & Maria for their live connection on the first day of these congresses in the past editions, which has allowed us to exchange impressions with them about their interventions and collaborations with the University of Massachusetts linked to the field of mental health. We are very surprised to see that we follow parallel paths regarding the use of the Zentangle Method as a powerful tool for the improvement of mental well-being.

It is a pleasure to share with all of you a summary of the results observed so far, which are highly positive. Applied in Mental Health patients, both directly by us and by the rest of the Zentangle and Mental Health Team, the Zentangle sessions have a very high acceptance, which I detail below:

  • Applied as a non-pharmacological treatment, a reduction of tachycardia, muscle tension, overwhelm, worry or stress is observed. This is perceived through the high concentration achieved by doing a Zentangle® session, which is given on a regular basis, with the following frequency:
  • Once a week for alcohol withdrawal patients.
  • Every 15 days in the specific day hospital for personality disorders. 
  • Once a month in hospital therapeutic communities for personality disorders.
  • Development of fine motor skills is observed, with continued practice, the strokes are coming out more and more safely, which also results in increased self-esteem to appreciate the final work that is improving (in the artistic part) with respect to the previous ones.
  • Reinforcement of the group, a feeling of support from the other participants is perceived, especially at the moment of admiring the mosaic. They also see as positive the exchange of experiences with fellow participants and the feeling of belonging to a group in a safe environment, created by the "non-judgment" and the appreciation that everyone is different and perfect in himself/herself.
  • We perceive very positive results in people who do not tolerate other relaxation techniques, perhaps due to the calmness throughout the session, the tranquility they experience, the elimination of judgment and comparison with others.
  • When the session is carried out following the 8-step ritual, the patient feels a sense of calm and security, since he/she is following a routine that is already familiar to him/her and this promotes relaxation. Also contributing to the reduction of insecurity and frustration is the fact that the "rules" in the Method are flexible since the same tangle can be interpreted in different ways and all of them will be correct.

Patients describe finding a sense of physical and emotional well-being through artistic satisfaction.

Some common points with Mindfulness such as attention to breathing, eliminating judgment, accepting things as they are and not as we would like them to be, attention to the present moment, etc, offer possibilities for those attending Zentangle sessions, which is very necessary in this type of patients, as they do not tolerate other disciplines that demand more rigid rules.

In short, Zentangle is a method very well valued both by patients and by the nursing teams with whom we have been working since 2016. For our part, we are very pleased that Zentangle is becoming known in more and more places and we hope that little by little, we will be incorporating more hospitals that offer us the opportunity to publicize the magnificent possibilities for wellness and mental health.

And we have enormous confidence that the Method works! We will always be grateful to Rick & Maria for bringing this treasure to us, and to the whole Zentangle HQ team for their invaluable work. Thank you.

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En español...

A raíz de la pandemia de COVID19 y de sus graves consecuencias a nivel mundial, hemos tomado conciencia de la importancia de la Salud Mental, la eterna olvidada en los entornos sociales, políticos y domésticos. El aislamiento y la “no relación” durante todo este tiempo, nos han pasado factura respecto al bienestar mental, especialmente en población vulnerable, adolescentes, etc.

Soy Maria Tovar CZT14 y junto a mi hermana Mercedes Perez Crespo CZT EU2, formamos El Último Tangle, una escuela presencial y online, dedicada a la difusión del Método Zentangle® y a los beneficios que aporta su práctica regular. Nosotras fuimos conscientes de la importancia del cuidado de la salud mental unos años antes del COVID 19, debido a distintas circunstancias personales, y precisamente por la gran ayuda que fue para nosotras mismas en momentos difíciles. Tanto el método, como sus principios básicos tan extrapolables al mundo real, nos ayudaron a incorporar la rutina Zentangle en nuestras vidas y comprobar de primera mano sus potentes y beneficiosos efectos.

En 2016 tuvimos la suerte de conocer a Ángela Iglesias, Enfermera Supervisora respnsable del departamento de Trastornos de la personalidad en el Hospital Dr. Rodriguez Lafora, de la Comunidad de Madrid. Juntas comenzamos un programa de formación a los enfermeros de dicho hospital, convencidas de que el Método Zentangle podría aportar calma, relajación, seguridad y mejora en la concentración a los pacientes de Salud Mental. Hemos conseguido ampliar la formación en práctica Zentangle a otros hospitales de Salud mental, tanto en Madrid como fuera (Hospital Gregorio Marañón, Hospital General de Talavera, Hospital psiquiátrico de Vitoria, Centros de día, etc) y en algunos de ellos, incluso trabajar con pacientes y comprobar de primera mano cómo el método les motiva, les ayuda a mejorar su autoestima, a desarrollar su creatividad, a no juzgarse tan duramente, etc.

A través de las colaboraciones con Ángela de la Iglesia, conocimos a la Dra.Matilde Arlandis, responsable de la asignatura de Salud Mental en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) del Grado de Enfermería. De la mano de Matilde, comenzamos a participar en un Seminario de tratamientos no farmacológicos aplicados en salud mental, curso que impartimos cada mes de mayo desde 2018 a los alumnos de último curso del Grado de Enfermería de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Este año ha sido el quinto de nuestra participación. También en la UAM, hemos impartido clases de Zentangle en el Máster de Intervenciones enfermeras en poblaciones vulnerables”. Estos alumnos son los que luego

nos reclaman para impartir Zentangle, tanto a pacientes como a sanitarios, desde los distintos hospitales a los que van destinados tras sus estudios universitarios.

Los comentarios recibidos de los alumnos de enfermería, recogidos en una encuesta realizada cada año posteriormente a la práctica del taller, ofrecen una satisfacción del 100% y despiertan muchísimo interés entre ellos. Tanto por la novedad del método, como por la posibilidad de ofrecer alternativas no farmacológicas a los pacientes.

El equipo “Zentangle y Salud Mental” lo formamos un grupo de 5 personas.Nuestras sesiones de Zentangle, impartidas por Mercedes y por mí en estos ámbitos sanitarios, siempre van acompañadas por una introducción de intervención enfermera que llevan a cabo Ángela Iglesias y Ana Morales, del Hospital Dr. Rodrígez Lafora, así como el apoyo de la Dra Matilde Arlandis, de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, las tres antes ya mencionadas, y las tres expertas en salud mental, dedicadas a este campo de la medicina desde hace muchos años. Nuestra pasión por el Método crece a medida que lo extendemos, pero aún así somos conscientes de que nos queda mucho por hacer.

Este año el equipo de Zentangle y Salud Mental ha sido invitado a participar, con un taller de Zentangle y un estudio sobre su práctica continuada con los pacientes del hospital Doctor Rodríguez Lafora, en el Congreso Nacional de Enfermería de Salud Mental (AEESME) que se ha celebrado este año en Torremolinos, España. A raíz de este congreso estamos recibiendo solicitudes para asistir a eventos en hospitales de otras zonas, como Baleares, País Vasco y ahora concretamente al Congreso de Salud Mental de la Comunidad de Andalucía, que se celebra este próximo mes de junio en Cádiz.

Junto con la empresa CAYPE organizamos desde hace 2 años un Congreso Internacional de Zentangle en la ciudad de Vitoria, al norte de España. CAYPE se ha involucrado desde el primer momento en apoyar la difusión de Zentangle, y organizado por ellos, hemos impartido varios talleres de formación a enfermeros de salud mental del hospital psiquiátrico de Vitoria, llamado Txagorritxu. Seguimos contando con su inestimable apoyo y colaboración, les estamos muy agradecidas. Así mismo agradecemos enormemente a Rick & Maria su conexión en directo el primer día de estos congresos en las pasadas ediciones, lo que nos ha permitido cambiar impresiones con ellos sobre sus intervenciones y colaboraciones con la Universidad de Massachussets vinculadas al campo de la salud mental. Nos sorprende enormemente comprobar que seguimos caminos paralelos respecto a la utilización de Zentangle como una potente herramienta para la mejora del bienestar mental.

Dicho esto, es un placer compartir con todos vosotros un resumen de los resultados observados hasta el momento, que son altamente positivos.

Aplicado en enfermos de Salud Mental, tanto directamente por nosotras como por el resto del Equipo Zentangle y Salud Mental, las sesiones de Zentangle tienen una altísima aceptación, que detallo a continuación:

  • Aplicado como tratamiento no farmacológico, se observa una reducción de la taquicardia, de la tensión muscular, el agobio, la preocupación o el estrés. Esto se percibe a través de la alta concentración que se consigue al hacer una sesión de Zentangle®, que se imparte de manera regular, con la siguiente frecuencia:
    • Una vez a la semana para pacientes de deshabituación de alcoholemia. 
    • Cada 15 días en el hospital de día específico de trastornos de la personalidad.
    • Una vez al mes en comunidades terapéuticas hospitalarias de trastornos de la personalidad.
  • Se observa desarrollo de las habilidades motoras finas, con la práctica continuada, los trazos van saliendo cada vez con más seguridad, lo cual revierte también en el aumento de la autoestima al apreciar el trabajo final que va mejorando (en la parte artística) respecto a los anteriores.
  • Refuerzo del grupo, se percibe un sentimiento de apoyo por parte de los demás participantes, especialmente en el momento de admirar el mosaico. También ven como algo positivo el intercambio de experiencias con los compañeros asistentes y la sensación de pertenencia a un grupo en un ambiente seguro, creado por el “no juicio” y en la apreciación de que cada uno es diferente y perfecto en sí mismo.
  • Percibimos resultados muy positivos en personas que no toleran otras técnicas de relajación, debido quizá a la calma a lo largo de la sesión, a la tranquilidad que experimentan, a la eliminación del juicio y comparación con otros.
  • Al realizarse la sesión siguiendo el ritual de los 8 pasos, el paciente percibe sensación de calma y seguridad, puesto que sigue una rutina que ya le resulta conocida y esto fomenta la relajación. También contribuye a la reducción de inseguridad y de frustración el hecho de que las "normas" en Zentangle sean flexibles, ya que un mismo tangle se puede interpretar de diversas maneras y todas ellas serán correctas.
  • Los pacientes describen encontrar una sensación de bienestar físico y emocional a través de la satisfacción artística.
  • Algunos puntos comunes con Mindfulness como son la atención a la respiración, eliminar el juicio, aceptar las cosas como son y no como nos gustaría que fueran, la atención al momento presente, etc, ofrecen unas posibilidades para los asistentes a las sesiones de Zentangle, que es muy necesaria en este tipo de pacientes, ya que no toleran otras disciplinas que les exigen normas más rígidas.

En definitiva, Zentangle es un método muy bien valorado tanto por los pacientes como por los equipos enfermeros con los que hemos ido trabajando desde 2016 . Por nuestra parte, estamos muy satisfechas de que Zentangle se vaya conociendo cada vez en más lugares y esperamos que poco a poco, vayamos incorporando más hospitales que nos ofrezcan la oportunidad de dar a conocer las magníficas posibilidades para el bienestar y la salud mental.

¡Y tenemos una enorme confianza en que el Método funciona!

Siempre estaremos agradecidas a Rick & Maria, por acercarnos este tesoro, y a todo el equipo de Zentangle HQ por su inestimable labor.



  • Dear all, thank you so much for so many lovely messages! Thanks for your support and lovely words, this make us go on stronger and even more passionate (if possible) with our work wit mental health communities.

    María Tovar on

  • Thank you so much for sharing your work with us. I am very interested in learning more.

    Kathy Wright-Starr, CZT 12 on

  • Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    Linda Dochter on

  • Thanks so much for contributing such amazing work to this community and furthering sharing the practice of the Zentangle Method with people that can benefit from it. You are doing wonderful things!

    Molly Hollibaugh on

  • Thank you for taking the time to write about using the Zentangle Method with people in the mental health field. Pre Covid, I was fortunate to work with several groups in my area of Ontario, Canada, and found it to be very beneficial to help improve the lives of not only mental health patients but also those who are differently abled, physically and mentally. Reading this truly makes my heart sing. Zentangle is changing the world. Kudos to you and your team. ❤️

    Brenda Shaver CZT 8 on

  • Maria and Mercedes, Thank you so much for sharing in so much detail about all the work you are doing in Spain with Zentangle to help those experiencing mental health problems. It is amazing that you are involved directly with nurses and health workers, allowing the ripples to spread out – to who knows where! I know that this has been a very long journey for you over several years, and you have worked extremely hard to achieve this. Well done, and I look forward to hearing more!

    Lesley Roberts on

  • Thank you for sharing information about all the wonderful work that is being done by such inspirational people as Maria & Mercedes in cooperation with medical professionals in the health industry. The positive results for all participants in the Zentangle method can only continue to go from strength to strength around the world as more people continue to hear and feel the benefits of the Zentangle method for so many people. Keep up the good work in spreading the word about Zentangle.

    Lianne CZT 13 on

  • Queridas sisters, sois la punta de lanza, pioneras en España y un ejemplo a seguir. Me parece maravilloso el dar a conocer al sistema de salud y concretamente al área de salud mental, el método Zentangle que tan buenos resultados da.

    Deseando leer la segunda parte de este artículo tan bien articulado y documentado.
    Os admiro y os quiero un montón

    María José Torrado on

  • Dear Sisters,

    Congratulations, this encourage us, to use Zentangle method for clients with mental health problems.
    I really enjoyed your report and I’m very impressed.
    Kind regards Julia

    Dr. Julia-Maria Weber on

  • You are so inspiring. Congratulations!

    Mary Lou Minard CZT 32 on

  • ¡Maravillosa trayectoria Maris y Mercedes!
    Me encanta saber que el Método Zentangle cada vez se extiende más como un apoyo terapéutico para personas en el campo de la salud mental, ya sea para pacientes como para profesionales. Gracias por compartir los resultados obtenidos y espero la segunda parte de tan interesante camino.

    Soraya García Díaz CZT 36 on

  • Qué suerte teneros en esta gran comunidad sisters, hacéis un gran trabajo que abrirá muchos caminos! Gracias!

    Almudena Mora CZTEU5

    Almudena on

  • Maria’s report is well written and she articulated so brilliantly the amazing work she and her sister, Mercedes are doing today. Every so often, unique people are born into this material world with a strong sense of mission and vision. I have begun to speculate that these highly evolved souls bring with them a remembrance of the realm of higher consciousness. I feel that Maria and Mercedes are two such souls. Reading their report took my breath away. As a retired RN of 40 years, I am well aware of the NEED for a meditative art practice such as Zentangle in the health care provider network. Today I feel proud of them and of the gifts they and I were blessed to give as health care professionals.

    Paula Schneider on

  • Congratulations on your wonderful success, in helping so many people.. Bravo!

    Linda Rios on

  • Brilliant and beautiful work you are doing helping others to find some sense of peace thru creativity. Zentangle is definitely a therapeutic approach to wellbeing and calms our sensations in an ever chaotic world. Thank you all for being of service to those most in need.💖💜

    Anna Vermillion-Hoss on

  • This is the power of LOVE. Outstanding!!

    Maureen on

  • Dear sisters, its very exciting to see how you have been working so hard to give Zentangle a warm cosy place in the world of Mental Health. I have witnessed the way you have contacted people for so long and of course It hasn’t been an easy task. However, sooner or later more and more institutions will recognize the importance of the Method and its role as a feasible alternative to be includes in other programs. Thanks for such hard work and for demonstrating Zentangle is more than just beautiful pics.🤗🤗🤗

    Os Burbano on

  • This work, your passion and compassion, lift my spirit. So impressive.


  • Wonderful! I have seen the positive results of Zentangling with my students since I became CZT. It’s so gratifying to hear that it’s being validated by professionals in organized studies, with the results being analyzed, and used to help those in need. The Zentangle Method is so much more than fun …

    Ann Baum on

  • Yihaa! Super ladies!

    ArjadLH on

  • What a wonderful expression of your use of your Zentangle Art to help others as well & teach Nurses how to help their patients without pharmaceutical intervention—BRILLIANT 💫

    Penny on

  • First of all, I am sorry I did not get to meet you when I was in Madrid in Sept. Your work is so important and your write up is inspiring. It also helps those of us who promote this in medical settings. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

    Mindy Shapiro on

  • That is such an uplifting story. Thanks for your work and I look forward to seeing part two.


    Donna Kinsler on

  • It is such good tonic for the soul to know there are people out there doing this kind of work. Bravo!

    MKay Watson CZT 17 on

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