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.
Translation Tips for House-Tree-Person Drawing Technique
House-Tree-Person Art Therapy Technique
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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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