Learn How to Interpret Art Therapy Drawings

Interpret Drawings For Art Therapy:

Learning to interpret art therapy drawings makes you the art therapy expert. It is important for you as the art therapist to understand all aspects of the drawing, yet remain nonjudgemental in the process. Remember to let the client be the ultimate translator.


A Quick Reference Guide for Art Therapy Drawings: Learn To Interpret At- Risk Clients Through  Art Therapy Drawings.


Placement of a Play Therapy Drawing: Look at the placement of the drawing. This is a very important part of the interpretation.

Top of page art therapy drawing: Lives in a fantasy world, withdrawn, avoids others.

Bottom of page art therapy drawing: Insecure, dependent, needy

Middle of page art therapy drawing: Range of normalcy

Heavy pressure on art therapy  drawing of lines: Trauma or Aggression

Light pressure: Fear

Shading: Anxiety, if on genitals then possible sexual abuse or sexual identity conflict.

Lots of details in the art therapy drawing: Possible sexual abuse or need to control.

Constant Erasures in the art therapy drawing: Anxiety and Stress

Small Figures or Drawings: Insecurity, possible depression, low self-esteem, withdrawal, etc.

Large Figures or Drawings: Poor Locus of Control

Slanted Figures: Unstable, insecure, possible mental imbalance


A-Sexual Gender: Possible Sexual Trauma

Drawing in Profile: Withdrawn

Stick Figure: Insecure or depressed

Ears: Paranoia / Suspicious

Eyes:

Eyes/ Large: Suspicious

Eyes / Small: Guilty or withdrawn

Closed Eye: Withdrawn

Feet:

Long: Possible Sexual Relevance

Tiny: Dependency and withdrawn

Hands:

Absence of Hands: Possible sexual abuse or sense of “helplessness.”

Large Hands: Aggressive or hostile

Small Hands: Insecure

Hidden Hands: Guilt

Mitten Hands: Repression of aggressive feelings but showing compliance outwardly.

Fingers:

Long : Aggressive

No Hands: Aggressive

It is very rare for a child to draw genitals or breasts in the art therapy drawing. Any drawings of genitals (or possibly breasts) is usually an indicator of possible sexual abuse.

Look carefully at all parts of the art therapy drawing and do further assessments on the art therapy client.

Hair: Messy: Confused Shaded: Anxiety

Head (Ego) Large: Fantasy Thinking Small: Possible O.C.D.,

Lips: Open Mouth: Possible Sexual Relevance or neediness

Long Neck: Emotional Numbness Thick Short Neck: Aggressive

Weak Neck: Fragile

Large Nostrils: Aggression

Lopsided Shoulders: Unstable

Teeth Exposed or Jagged: Aggression or Anger

Sexual Characteristics of the art therapy drawings to be aware of:

Vampire Teeth or Monster Teeth

Deformed Image

Body without lower parts

Stick Figures

Missing Hands

Overemphasis of the mouth

Eyes hidden by dark glasses

Genitals

Monster fingers

Big hands

Cross eyed

Showing Teeth

Legs very close together

Clouds, snow, tumultuous waters , or rain

References: Lynne Cantlay, “Detecting Child Abuse” 


See More Art Therapy Techniques and Activities Here

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