Allison Brooks: The Use of Colour Therapy

After following my blog, researcher Allison Brooks volunteered to write a short article on the use of colour therapy. From personal experience, I know this has become a popular subject for medical professionals, visual artists and architects involved in health building design. Allison went to the University of Mississippi and earned a degree in Biomedical Anthropology. She is currently studying in this field to finish her ethnography on the effects of bio medicalization on Bolivian cultures. I thank her for her contribution. Her unedited guest blog is as follows:

Allison Brooks

How Color Therapy has and continues to offer beneficial changes

Color is all around us, but is often overlooked. It gives new life to things, like a field of flowers or that old antique table. Colors can change a mood, a house, and even character, and now in the medical realm. Many cherish fine colors for their aesthetic qualities, but not many look into it any deeper than that.

For example, the colors and furniture placement of a room are easy things to overlook. Not many people understand that the color of room or object can be more than just appealing to the eye; but when one really thinks about the use of color, it becomes apparent that certain colors are picked to stimulate certain senses. This is known as color therapy, and is being utilized in healing facilities and homes all around the world.

This in not a new concept; color is everywhere and subconsciously affects a person’s emotions, health, and energy. A man by the name of Faber Birren noticed this natural gift and emotional stir, and soon became the pioneer in color prescription. Faber Birren, was a very practical man and noticed how the use of color could inhibit certain actions, healing practices, or emotions. Birren changed how many companies and human lives operated.  One of his greatest accomplishments was his work with the U.S. Armed services to help alleviate work-place accidents. He established the current safety color code of the military and made different uniforms for certain personnel on Navy ships, resulting in a dramatic drop in accidents. This simple, but impacting change resulted in the drop of accidents by 28%.

Faber Birren’s legacy lives on, still today. From the terror-alert color scheme to pollen amounts, color codes are used everywhere. It might seem tricky at first to use the concepts of color therapy, but it is easy to change the mood and energy of a living space, just by using color.  For example, the use of earthy and warm tones is seen in many medical offices and waiting rooms. I encountered my first welcoming waiting room at a local DC dentist office, when I had an oral emergency while on vacation. The hygienists claimed that they saw a difference in the attitude of patients since the color change.

Colorado Hospital

In many case studies, the effects of color and patient acceptance to treatment have been notable. Currently, there are more studies being conducted to see what colors better suit certain diagnoses. The Children’s Hospital of Colorado has implanted the use of natural lightening and art in their rooms to promote healing and make a welcoming environment. Pictures of natural landscapes decorate the hallways and rooms because research “shows that looking at art based on nature helps reduce stress. Images such as water, trees and outdoor spaces reduce anxiety and pain.  And studies show that providing interactive opportunities for kids reduces their stress and anxiety. It is with this knowledge that our hospital uses are to bring the outdoors inside.”

This is why the use of color therapy is becoming popular in offices alike. Doctors and patients are seeing a difference in attitude and recovery time with the use certain colors. Since an unfavorable prognosis, like pancreatic cancer or mesothelioma cancer, can lead to a stressful situation, even the smallest of change can help ease the mind.

For further information please contact Allison on

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