Interpret Drawings For Play Therapy & Art Counseling

Use the below art therapy interpretation drawings information as a quick reference guide to your art therapy practice.

play therapy

Quick Reference: Learn To Interpret At- Risk Clients Through Play Therapy & Art Counseling Drawings.

Placement of a Play Therapy Drawing:

Top of page: Lives in a fantasy world, withdrawn, avoids others

Bottom of page: Insecure, dependent, needy

Middle of page: Range of normalcy

Heavy pressure on 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 drawing: Possible sexual abuse or need to control

Constant Erasures in drawing: Anxiety and Stress

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

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Drawing in Profile: Withdrawn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/ Large: Suspicious

Eyes / Small: Guilty or withdrawn

Closed Eye: Withdrawn


Long: Possible Sexual Relevance

Tiny: Dependency and withdrawn


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.


Long : Aggressive

No Hands: Aggressive

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

Look carefully at all parts of the drawing and do further assessments on the play 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 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


Monster fingers

Big hands

Cross eyed

Showing Teeth

Legs very close together

Clouds, snow, tumultuous waters , or rain

References: Lynne Cantlay, “Detecting Child Abuse”

Interpret Drawings to Art Counseling

Interpret Drawings to Creative Counseling 101 Home

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.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Creative Counseling eBooks for Sale:

Creative Counseling 101 eBook: Our Best Seller!

Creative Counseling ebook

Learn how to be a more Creative Counselor / Therapist with the book that started it all!

Learn step by step therapy with over fifty-five creative counseling and therapy techniques and activities. Includes full color reproducible worksheets with most activities.

Winner of the Counselor Writer of the Year Award, 2011, Georgia Regional Award, 2012

Download Your Copy Today Only $39.95
The Creative Counseling 101

Get ALL FOUR Creative Counseling eBooks for Only $98.95


Get your complete set of the Creative Counseling eBooks by Dr. Michelle Stangline for only $98.95, that's only $25.00 per eBook (Regular Price is $39.95).

Your complete set includes: Creative Counseling 101 Creative Group Counseling 101 Creative Play Therapy 101 Creative Sand Tray Therapy 101

Order Your Complete eBook Set Today by Clicking The Link Below:

Only $98.95 for all four eBooks

See Complete Set of ALL eBooks For Sale

BRAND NEW: Warm and Fuzzy School Counselor Classroom Guidance Lessons eBook

Get a year's worth of school counselor's guidance lessons, character education words, and social stories! Complete with lesson plans and behavior incentives.

school counselor guidance lessons eBook

Warm & Fuzzy School Counselor Guidance Lessons eBook

The Creative Small Group Counseling 101 eBook

This ebook includes 252 pages of step by step group therapy ideas for school counselors and professional therapists.

Group topics include grief, anger management, friendship, self-esteem, positive behavior, and stress management with colorful, reproducible worksheets.

Download Your Copy Today (See Below Link):

Only $39.95
Creative Small Group Counseling 101 eBook

The Creative Sand Tray Therapy 101 eBook

sand tray information book

Learn about the creative sand tray therapy process. This is an exact replica of the graduate sand tray therapy class I teach at a major university in Atlanta. You get 147 pages of creative ways to do sand tray therapy. Also included are colorful, reproducible worksheets for your clients to use and take home.

Buy it today for only $39.95

Sand Tray Therapy eBook Information and Order Form

Creative Play Therapy 101 eBook

play therapy e book and play therapy class

You can now learn everything I teach to graduate counseling students with this Creative Play Therapy eBook. The eBook has 25 sessions (181 pages) with step by step colored lesson plans and reproducible worksheets. Learn how to use the play therapy doll house, puppets, miniatures, miniature worlds, the sand tray, and more! If you work with children or teens then this book is a must have item for your practice.

Download your Play Therapy 101 eBook today!
eBook Play Therapy Book only $39.99

More Information for the Play Therapy eBook & Order Form

Bullying Prevention Coping Skill Card Set

Learn how to deal with bullies and mean teasers the emotionally intelligent way! Click the link below for more information:

bully prevention coping skill card set

Bully Prevention Coping Skills Card Set