chapter  Chapter 2
9 Pages

Projective Drawing Measures in the Assessment of Children and Adolescents

WithSusan C. Parente

This chapter surveys the history of projective drawing techniques, and particularly human figure drawing (HFD) tests, in child assessment practice. Florence Goodenough pioneered the first systematic use of human figure drawings in psychological assessment with the 1926 publication of the Draw-a-Man Test as a screening of children’s intelligence. Other scoring systems and drawing tasks were subsequently developed to identify various forms of psychopathology in children. Despite their popular usage, extensive research has repudiated the validity of scoring the signs or particular features of drawings as determinants of intelligence, or for specifying personality traits or diagnoses. Further, analysis of figure drawing and other types of projective assessment measures had begun to move away from Freudian interpretation with the advent of third force psychology and humanistic principles in the mid-twentieth century. The emergence of Individual/Collaborative Assessment and Therapeutic Assessment approaches championed the notions that testing is to be used in the service of self-discovery for the test-taker, and as a therapeutic opportunity between evaluator and test-taker. The Multiple Self-States Drawing Technique reflects these assessment trends, which view psychological evaluation as an opportunity for phenomenological, individualistic discoveries rather than for provision of data to be statistically analyzed for normative comparisons. The MSSDT moves beyond traditional projective assessment as well by offering a bridge between standard diagnostic practice with clinical treatment utility and, furthermore, by incorporating current neuroscientific theoretical understandings.