What Is Color Therapy, What Is It For, And Is It Right For Me?
Updated July 14, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH
Colors are all around us. They're in the natural world, in the homes we live in, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, and the entertainment we watch. Colors aren't just meaningless parts of our environment, either. They can change the way we feel and react to different situations. Color therapy uses these powers of color to heal, energize, and soothe us.
What Is Color Therapy?
Color therapy is an alternative therapy that uses colors and their frequencies to heal physical and emotional problems within the human body.Color therapy is also known as chromopathy, chromotherapy, or color healing.
What Is Color Therapy Used For?
The goal of color therapy is to correct physiological and psychological imbalances in the human body. For instance, if you're stressed, color therapy can help soothe you so that you can regain your psychological balance. If you're depressed, color therapy can be used to invigorate you and give you increased energy.
When Did Color Therapy Start?
Color therapy has been around at least since the time of Ancient Egypt. Egyptians believed in the power of light and used different colors of light to promote healing within the human body. Color therapy and its connection to the human body has continued to be important in some cultures. Even in Western societies that tend to prefer modern, institutionalized medicine, natural healers have continued to use colors to help people improve their physical and emotional health.
Although Western medicine doesn't accept color therapy as much, Western researchers are studying the scientific properties of visible light/colored light and the light frequencies within it. Color therapy hasn't 'earned' a place in Western medicine yet, but there's a strong possibility that it might when all the research results come in.
Colors And Chakras
Eastern medicine is the source of many of the so-called alternative therapies to treat ailments in the human body in the Western world. In Indian philosophy, the chakras are considered the centers of spiritual power and the energy field within our bodies. There are seven chakras, and a different color represents each:
- The Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine, is represented by red or red light. This chakra has to do with our grounding and connection with the Earth.
- The Sacral Chakra, located 2 or 3 inches below the navel, is represented by orange. This chakra is said to be associated with reproduction, the parts of the physical body like kidneys and adrenals, and pleasure. It is the mind-body chakra.
- The Solar Plexus Chakra, located between the navel and sternum, is represented by yellow. This chakra is associated with parts of the human body like the pancreas, liver, digestive system, and gallbladder, as well as positivity, empowerment, and well-being.
- Green represents the Heart Chakra. It's associated with parts of the physical body like the heart, lungs, and immune system. It's associated with energy or the energy field, the nervous system, mental focus, compassion, and empowerment.
- The Throat Chakra is represented by blue or blue light and is associated with the thyroid and metabolism as well as peaceful expression.
- The Third Eye Chakra, located between the eyebrows is represented by indigo and associated the pituitary gland and pineal gland and influences our sleep cycles, self-esteem, clarity, wisdom, and intuition.
- The Crown Chakra, located at the top of the head, is represented by violet and associated with the pineal gland, light sensitivity, sleep cycles, dreams, clarity, and spirituality.
Methods Of Delivery For Color Therapy
The alternative healing practice of color therapy relies on the delivery of the light frequencies of color to the body. The light enters the eyes to get into the human body or color therapy equipment may be used..
One way to take advantage of light therapy is to view the color simply. You look at the color for a few minutes and receive the therapeutic effects as light enters your eyes. That's all there is to the delivery. What you need to be careful with are the colors you choose. Green is considered the safest color. Red and orange may cause you too much excitement and agitation.
Color therapy is individualized as well. What works to help you might make someone else feel worse. For example, if you have a lot of anxiety and need to calm down, blue or blue light might be a good color to use. If someone else were depressed, though, blue wouldn't be a color they should use in color therapy. Red light is generally associated with negative emotions, but someone working to process anger may find it potentially useful.
Via Color Therapy Equipment
There are various kinds of color therapy equipment. Some of them can be made easily, while others can be ordered for a color therapist's use. This equipment uses the projection of colored visible light from the visible spectrum. Sometimes, the color is projected on a screen, and you look at it. The light comes from specific light bulbs of no more than 500 watts. With color therapy equipment, the colored light can be shone on your skin as well using modern and sometimes high-tech equipment that allows the hue and intensity of the color to be dialed in precisely.
Psychological Effects Of Different Colors
Colors affect our mental processes and can change our mood. Colorful light enters through our eyes and may produce a certain psychological effect within the human body. Each color has a different effect, so different colors are used for different mental conditions and mood problems. The following list describes how each of the main colors used in color therapy affects us and what they can do for you.
Green is the most balancing of all the colors. Color therapists usually consider green the safest color and typically start color therapy with it. When you're feeling sad, hopeless, or depressed, green can improve your mood. However, it's important to have a pure green color, as a light green can cause you to tip into anxiety.
Green is said to enhance the emotions of love, joy, and inner peace. It can bring you hope, strength, and serenity. Green is said to increase your wisdom and facilitate change and independence.
Blue is a color that must be used with extra care, as it can zap your energy if you're feeling low. Blue does help you express your feelings, though, and is related to your inner truth. Blue is a cold color that can be used to help you become more peaceful and relaxed. Primary blue is often used in therapy settings used for meditation and relaxation.
Blue can also be associated with wisdom, creativity, loyalty, and spirituality. Too much blue or blue that is too dark can lead to sadness, depression, and a feeling of emptiness. Light blue promotes serenity. It can also be used to help with insomnia.
Yellow can be used in color therapy to bring energy and encourage action. This color can make you feel happier. It can bring out your intelligence and wisdom. Too much or too-bright yellows are associated with betrayal, cruelty, and deceit. It can remind us of our mortality. Yellow is the most intense color in the spectrum.
Orange signifies abundance, pleasure, well-being, and sexuality. Orange may be used to stimulate different organs in the human body for physical healing. It revitalizes you and gives you increased mental energy. It can increase your feeling of connectedness between your mind and body. However, color therapists usually avoid this color for you if you're prone to anxiety.
The color red is even more stimulating than orange. It influences emotional issues like financial independence and physical survival. Red orange may also produce similar effects. It's mostly used for physical healing because its emotional effects can be extreme. Color therapists avoid shining red light on your head, as this can cause intense agitation. Infrared can also be used by a skilled color therapist if done so with caution. Neither red nor infrared is used for someone who has severe mental conditions.
Purple is most strongly associated with beauty, spirituality, and bliss. In color therapy, violet is often used on the forehead and neck to initiate feelings of calm and relaxation within the human body. However, it's recommended for use on any part of the body.
The Use Of Color In Art Therapy
Color is a major consideration for art therapists as well. They may instruct their clients to paint with a certain color that will bring out their issues or help them deal with them. Or, they may leave the color to the client and simply notice what colors they choose and how they combine the color with lines.
In art therapy, the client's use of orange might sometimes be an indication that the client suffered some form of sexual abuse in their past. Gray might show that they're feeling depressed, hopeless, or cut off from their emotions.
While art therapy isn't technically color therapy, the two methods do recognize many of the same effects of each of the colors in the visual spectrum.
Why Is Color Therapy Controversial?
As a science, color therapy is in its infant stages, if it's even been born into modern thinking. Some research is in progress, and some has been completed. So far, the studies have not revealed any reliable evidence about if and how colors affect the physical body.
One 2004 review of studies on color use in healthcare settings revealed some interesting problems with the concepts behind color therapy.
- There's no direct link between specific colors and health.
- There's probably a connection between color and mood, but one specific color isn't directly associated with one specific mood.
- Color changes the way we perceive and behave, but just how it affects us isn't clear.
- Current thinking on color seems to be an oversimplification of a much more complex type of influence.
In some countries, color therapy is recognized as a healing treatment and is regulated by law. In other countries, color therapy is considered a scam and a waste of time and money. As research continues, color therapy may become more controversial or less so. For now, each person must decide whether color therapy is something they want to pursue or not.
Is Color Therapy Right For Me?
Color therapy may be helpful to you, and it may not. It's hard to say at this point. When deciding whether to have color therapy or apply it to yourself, consider these questions:
- Am I willing to try something that isn't yet proven?
- How much am I affected by colors in my environment? (Color more influences some people than others.)
- Do I know enough about color therapy to try it for myself?
- Would another type of therapy address my situation more effectively?
No matter what your mental condition, there is a therapy that's right for you. The good news is that you don't have to know when you first seek help. You can talk to a counselor at ReGain.us right away. If you find you want a different type of therapy, you can request that your therapist use other methods that make more sense to you. Or, you can change to a different therapist whenever you choose.
Color therapy is proposed as a method of ealing emotionally and for the physical body. Whether you choose to pursue color therapy or some other, science-backed therapy, the most important thing you can do is talk to a counselor to set your course for mental health and happiness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is colour therapy and how does it work?
Colour therapy is the use of color in various ways In order to receive therapeutic benefit. Colour therapy can take many different forms, as we’ve discussed, and there are many different cultural and spiritual connections to color healing throughout the world.
A common form of colour therapy is the usage of colored lights. A therapy light may illuminate the room during a session, for example. Blue light might promote healing and relaxation. Red light might promote mental or physical invigoration. Visible light is often utilized in other ways too, like simply viewing colors or using color via creative methods like painting or drawing.
Colour therapy and color treatment have yet to be integrated into more typical and mainstream forms of Western medicine, but they might offer therapeutic benefits or assist in understanding and unpacking emotion. When it comes to using color to impact health society in the West has yet to fully catch on, but color healing (and its connection to energy centres or other aspects of spirituality) is an important part of many practices of Eastern medicine. It is often used as a connection between the physical body (or human body) and the natural healing power of the world.
What is the color for healing?
The color of healing is generally considered to be green. Green represents the beauty and serenity of nature. It also represents the earth. Many cultures recognize green as the primary color of healing due to its connection to balance and stability in nature. Because of the associations attached to it, an individual might find green to be soothing or produce a calming effect.
The color blue is also sometimes considered to have healing properties, as it is said to encourage relaxation. Blue light may be used in a variety of ways in color therapy to promote a calm and comforting environment. Blue light may be used to light up a room, for example. Blue light can also be delivered through specific color therapy devices. Other than blue light, other uses might include blue décor or room furnishings, using blue in artwork, or others.
What does a colour therapist do?
A colour therapist will incorporate different types of color psychology and color medicine into therapeutic treatment for the human body. What specific activities and methods are used may depend on the person and/or the goals they hope to achieve.
What color medicine or color healing looks like in action can vary. Colored glass or light may change the atmosphere of a room. A therapist might use art therapy and instruct a patient to work with certain colors to work through specific emotions. Art therapy encompasses many of the same lines of thought and healing potentials as color medicine or color therapy. Color is also sometimes used to try to influence moods or emotions.
Light and color can be easy intertwined with other therapeutic methods. Evidence explaining any connection between the human body and color healing is still limited, but some countries view color medicine as a legitimate form of treatment.
What color helps anxiety?
Generally soft, neutral (or perhaps even muted) colors are considered beneficial for addressing anxiety. Because of their associations with tranquility, both blue and green are specific colors that are often referred to when looking to promote mental and physical relaxation.
Increased relaxation may impact the physical body or human body in some beneficial ways (short-term; there aren’t any proven links between color and long-term health benefits for now). Because blood pressure may be influenced in part by stress or anxiety, reducing the effects of these emotions during color therapy may temporarily lower or stabilize blood pressure. Blue light therapy might be used in this case.
What is the color of hope?
Yellow is often referred to as a color of hope, and this symbolic usage is frequently present on flags. The color green is sometimes considered to represent hope, as its overall essence is connected to peace and tranquility in times of disarray. Yellow’s brightness and connection to other parts of our natural world – the sun, for example – might be a beneficial part of color treatment focused on improving mood.
What do the colors mean in color therapy?
Individual interpretations and associations with color can vary from person to person or culture to culture, but there are some general meanings connected to some colors. Red blue and green are common, as is orange. As mentioned, blue/blue light and green are often associated with producing calming, relaxing, and healing effects. Orange is sometimes associated with prosperity and positive energy, similar to yellow. Red may represent negative emotions like anger, rage, or aggression. It might also represent passion or power. Other cool, neutral tones might promote peace or relaxation.
The effects of color treatment on the human body or how individual colors are utilized in color psychology may still vary. You can read about more detailed interpretations of what colors mean and how they can affect mentality or the physical body earlier in our guide.
What colours are good for mental health?
Different colors might be represented or referred to in different ways throughout color treatment and colour therapy even if the colors themselves aren’t associated with positive memories or emotions.
Colors that might be beneficial for mental health or the human body can be those associated with calmness and relaxation, like blue indigo or green, or neutral colors that promote similar effects. Blue light might be used to focus on tranquility.
In Eastern medicine or natural healing, colors may be used often to impact the physical body as well. It may be used in conjunction with other methods, like vibrational healing. Vibrational healing utilizes specific, deliberate vibrations throughout different parts of the human body to promote restoration of energy fields and stabilization. The intent of vibrational healing is to balance the vibrations that happen in the body at a molecular level (an “energy field”). In this way, vibrational healing is thought to re-balance the state of the human body. Charged water may be used to promote similar results. Charged water is often thought of in relation to chakras, as discussed earlier in our guide.
How is colour therapy done?
Colour therapy can take many different forms, sometimes in conjunction with other therapeutic treatment methods. It usually involves some physical exposure to colors from the visible spectrum. It can be combines with other similar therapeutic practices, like art therapy, to impact the human body. See “what does a colour therapist do?” for more discussion about different ways color healing may be used in practice.