Modified House- Tree- Person- Art Therapy Drawing Technique Rationale:
This projective art therapy drawing technique was first developed and used by John Buck. Like Carl Jung, he believed that the unconscious could become conscious in art therapy applications.
The actual art therapy drawing technique of House-Tree-Person starts with three pieces of white paper.
The art therapist would then direct the client to draw a house on one piece of paper, then a tree on the second piece of paper, and finally a person on the third sheet of paper.
Basically, this House-Tree-Person art therapy technique gives the therapist an idea of how the client views him or herself in the world through the unconscious and subconscious parts of the self and the art therapy client's phenomenological world.
Sometimes, the art therapist would ask the client to draw a person of the opposite sex. This brings a Freudian essence to the art therapy drawing and I do not use this part of the technique, especially with children.
The way I use the House-Tree-Person art therapy drawing technique is a bit more modified to fit a private practice and a school counseling arena. I ask the client / student to draw the House-Tree-Person on one sheet of paper and do not ask them to draw a person of the opposite sex.
Pre- Art Therapy Drawing Notes: Note order of all the items and details that are drawn. Record any comments the client makes before, during, and after the drawing.
Materials for the House- Tree- Person Drawing Art TherapyTechnique:
Crayons, Colored Pencils, or Markers
Directions for the House-Tree-Person Drawing Technique:
1. The therapist will say, “I want to you to draw a house, a tree, and a person. You can draw any type of house, tree, person you like. Do the best you can.
You can take as long as you like to draw the house, tree, and person. You can also add anything else you want to add to the drawing. Feel free to erase anything you like to in the drawing.”
2. Allow the client / student time to draw the house, tree, person without interruptions.
3. After the client / student is finished with the drawing ask some of the following questions below:
- Who is the person in the drawing?
- Who lives in the house in the drawing?
- What kind of tree is in the drawing?
- What else is in the drawing and why?
Translations and Interpretations of the House-Tree-Person Drawing Technique:
These are based on the symbolic meanings of a house, tree, and person. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols is a book that every therapist and school counselors needs to have on their desk.
This book needs to be referenced after each drawing, sand tray, or play therapy session to understand possible meanings from the client’s work.
Disclaimer: The House-Tree-Person Art Therapy activity is only to be used by a mental health professional.
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