Colour Therapy Case Study
Background of the Client
My client, aged 23 was first diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa at the age of 11, she received CBT and DBT treatments and was receiving outpatient treatment until the age of 19, when she felt that she was able to cope with her eating disorder alone.
She now considers herself recovered, and has a relatively normal relationship with food. However, she still experiences high levels of anxiety around meal times and recognises that she has very low self-confidence and low self-esteem. Client dresses only in black and finds it a real struggle to leave the house wearing colour, she will do it occasionally to push herself but will always feel uncomfortable and will quite often take a black jumper with her as a ‘safety net.’ Client is receiving no medical help, and is on no medication. She is keen to learn about the effect of colour in our everyday life and hopes that she can learn some techniques that she can put into practice to improve her quality of life.
When we met to discuss the options of her receiving a sample Colour Therapy treatment, I asked her what she would hope to gain from the experience. Client said that she would love to understand why she habitually wears black, and would eventually love to gain some confidence in herself. She has no real expectations, but is keen to learn about anything that links closely to herself that might help her improve her quality of life in the long term.
Intended Method of Treatment
I intend to start the session with Client by asking her a few questions about herself, I’d like to know what colour she would consider herself as being, or ask her, her favourite colour if she finds that question difficult. I will also ask her if there is any colours that she dislikes, and if there are any colours she would love to surround herself with but doesn’t because of her ritualised habit of wearing black. I will then ask her whether there is any music that she would like to listen to during the session, if there is nothing specific I will play some meditation music to create a calming atmosphere. I will burn Lemon Balm oil as that will help to calm her nerves, being of a yellow energy. I have set up a calming and peaceful space for us to work together.
Colouring & Art work
After Client is settled and relaxed, I will present her with a large selection of colouring pencils, varying all through the colour spectrum and a printed out Mandela symbol that she can colour in, I won’t force her to say anything while she is colouring but I might ask questions about the colours she has chosen. I also will have plain sheets of paper and a large selection of acrylic paint, I am going to then ask her to paint a self-portrait of herself, using whichever colours she feels are appropriate. I am going to talk with her about the image she has drawn and the messages it portrays. I am going to then talk with her about her need to wear black, and suggest other ways to incorporate colour into her body. I am going to suggest using balancing colours in her food, and due to the nature of her Eating disorder, I feel that using colours that her body needs to create inner harmony in her foods may help her with anxieties when it comes to eating also, and give meal times a new focus point; being the colours she is putting into her body rather than the calories. I am going to ask her to express any questions or queries she has towards the end of the session.
Colour Therapy Session
Client arrived in good spirit, she firstly mentioned that she loved the smell of the oil that was burning and asked if she could move it closer to her, I asked her if there was any music that she would like me to put on and she suggested the work of Mariee Sioux, which was very relaxing and worked really well throughout the session. She told me that her favourite colour was blue, and that she considers herself a blue person. She likes all shades of blue with the exceptions of bright blue and electric blue, which she finds too bright and bold. She said that she doesn’t like orange. I asked her why, but she was unsure. She said that she would love to be able to wear blue, as she loves it but she would also love to wear bits of pink and feel girly and feminine. She said she would love to have the confidence to wear colours and be able to wear the colours that fit with her mood, but she is afraid and doesn’t understand the ‘control’ that wearing black has on her. She says she wants to wear colours, and florals and look ‘pretty’ but she “can’t.”
Client was excited by the colouring in task, and before I had even presented her with the image of the Madela she had picked up two blue pencils and told me that she liked those ones! I put the image infront of her and told her to colour in using whatever colours she chooses, and to take her time and that there is no rush. I also suggested to her that she might discuss with me what she was feeling whilst colouring, and the way the colours make her feel and why she is choosing them if she knows. She chose a large selection of blues, she seemed to enjoy picking the colours, she sad that she was ‘choosing a lot of blue because I just love it’ but she also chose some yellow, some different shades of pink. She said she liked the yellow next to blue, and that she considers yellow a happy colour.
She said that the blue and the yellow together reminded her of the summer, like the sun and the sky. I noticed that she didn’t once even look at or move the black pencil. I noted this as interesting as she was dressed head to toe in black. I asked her how she felt throughout colouring and she said that she felt very relaxed, I suggested colouring to her as a more regular method of relaxation and suggested it could become a tool for calming her anxieties, she said she would definitely be interested in trying to make that part of her routine, and she felt that that could be something that may really help her.
When she was finished and ready to move on, I took away the coloured pencils and the Mandela and presented her with an A3 sheet of paper and a pallet with a large range of paints on it. I explained to her that I would like her to paint a portrait of herself using which ever colours she felt, she was excited that she didn’t have to paint an accurate portrait,.
I told her it didn’t even have to resemble a human shape if that didn’t feel right to her. I told her she could talk to me as little or as much as she wanted during the painting exercise. She painted a face, with big blue eyes and a big pink smile, she said she hopes people see her as a smiley person. Around her face she painted blue flowers, and yellow sunflowers, with a big sun in the corner, and a blue sky. She said that this is how she sees herself, that she is happy and smiley and loves the outside, and loves the beauty of things around her.
She then said ‘I don’t want to paint my black clothes, I want to be wearing something different.’ She painted herself in pink, she even put pink paint on her nails. She then stepped back from the image and was really proud of it, we talked about her need to wear black. She said it makes her sad, and that she wishes she had the confidence to wear other colours. I asked her why she thinks she wears black, she said that she feels more confident and powerful, more body confident and that she doesn’t feel like other people will perceive her as weak. I then explained to her about the importance of balanced colour energies within the body, I explained to her about the colours of the chakras.
I also wrote down the colour affirmation for blue that was written in the course guide and gave it to her. I then asked her if she had ever thought about trying to balance the colours surrounding her by thinking about the colours of the foods she ate. She said that she had never thought of doing that, she was excited about selecting foods with the colours that she felt that she “craved” that day. I then explained to her that yellow ray foods are good to aid positivity and strength. I wrote her down a list of yellow ray foods, and she was keen to find more things to add to the list. She said herself that she thinks that she could change the way she felt about food if she could think of it as putting ‘beautiful colours’ into her body. She felt very positive about this as an idea. I asked her if she had any questions for me before we finished, and she said that she didn’t, and that she felt really positive and understood everything that we had talked about.
Evaluation & Feedback
I asked Client for feedback from the session, she said that she found the whole experience really calming and she took a lot from it. She said that she didn’t realise the effect that colour had on a person, and that she would definitely love to have another session. I asked her if she had any criticisms and she didn’t. I asked her if there was anything from the session that she feels like she could take away and use on a day to day basis. She said that she was most excited about trying to focus on the colours of foods and focus on creating a ‘Balanced colour diet.’ She also asked me before she left to print off some more Mandela images for her to try colouring in as a relaxation exercise.