Art Counseling / Art Therapy
Three Animal Drawing
An Art Therapy Technique adapted by Creative Counseling 101
I first came across this old counseling art therapy technique during my internship in graduate school. I remember I got so excited because this was the only art therapy technique my internship supervisor ever taught me!
I forgot about this art therapy technique over the years until a wonderful counselor recently reminded me of it. This is similar to the House, Tree, Sun, Water, Animal art therapy technique that I have on my site, however, it is a bit different.
I apologize that I do not know where it came from. I tried to find it on the internet, but did not have any luck.
Basically, to do this wonderful art therapy activity the therapist, or school counselor, will ask the client / student to draw three animals of their own choosing.
The first animal drawn will be a representation of how others see the client / student.
The second animal drawn will be the representation of how you view yourself.
The third animal drawn will represent what you want to become, or your potential in life.
I love this exercise because it taps into the deeper layers of the psyche. This art therapy / art counseling technique can be used by therapist and school counselors.
If you are using it as a school counselor simply modify it and do not let it cross the “therapy line.”
If you are a therapist you can take this art therapy / art counseling activity to a deeper level and process the animals in depth. In therapy, and even on a lighter scale in school counseling, you can translate the animals in the “Symbols Dictionary”, or “www.Dream Dictionary.com”.
It is amazing to me how true to life drawings are. These art therapy / art counseling drawings can be added to your data collection and make excellent “memory jogger” notes in therapy and school counseling.
Materials Needed for the Three Animals Art Therapy / Art Counseling Technique Drawing
Crayons, Markers, Colored Pencils
Paper (I prefer the larger legal size paper)
“Symbols Dictionary” found on Amazon. I prefer the one from Penguin Press.
Directions for the Art Therapy / Art Counseling Technique Drawing:
1. Ask your client / student to draw three animals on the worksheet below.
2. Allow the client / student time to draw the animals. I always give them some space when they are drawing and ask them to let me know when they are finished.
I make sure they know I am available, but might skim through e-mails. I am always sitting nearby and ready to talk to them about their drawing.
3. After they draw the drawing and tell me they are finished we discuss the drawing. I ask them why they drew each animal and jot down their reaction. We process each animal drawn together and I ask how this animal’s characteristics could possibly fit into their own life.
4. After the therapy session, I translate the animal in the” Symbol’s Dictionary” or at “www.DreamMoods.com.” I don’t always share this translation with the client, but might process some of the translations that fit on a later date.
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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