Archive Monthly Archives: January 2017

The SSCA Method Of Interpretation

The Seven-Step Configuration Analysis (SSCA) is a method of psychological interpretation of pictorial expression (e.g. projective drawings and paintings) in a systems analysis approach.

The order of family drawings

Overview of the Seven-Step Configuration Analysis (click to enlarge)

The SSCA is a general scheme of the expert’s thinking when understanding a picture.

Download the SSCA map here (PDF)

The SSCA was developed by Prof. Zoltan Vass (1996). The most comprehensive publication of the method is a 928-page handbook:

​Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

About the author (click here)

A short summary of the steps below (click to enlarge):

The order of family drawings

The Seven Steps of the SSCA (download here)

In practice, the examiner starts with drawing, a phenomenological map, which represents his observations about the subject and the picture. It includes all the observations on a single page and helps him to focus on the relationships between the observations.

As the last step, he may also construct a semantic map, which represents the essence of the picture.

The SSCA consists of seven basic methods or steps: (1) context analysis, (2) process analysis, (3) phenomenological analysis, (4) intuitive analysis, (5) global analysis, (6) item analysis and (7) finding the essence.

The SSCA provides a rich repertoire of methods and techniques. At the beginning of the SSCA studies, it takes a long time to perform a complete analysis. However, after learning the method, the whole procedure will become an inner-thinking strategy and the seven steps will merge into one process. An expert is able to choose the most adequate methods in the repertoire of the SSCA and perform the whole analysis in his head.

The order of family drawings

Download the most important chapter of the SSCA Book free

The aim is a level of expertise in which the pictures begin to “speak” to the examiner after a short while.

The final result of the SSCA is the ‘essence’ of the picture, i.e. a concise but extendable summary of a picture’s psychological significance.

References:

Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

Next step: Check the free SSCA online course of the Institute

Downloads (FREE):

  1. The SSCA map (PDF)
  2. The Seven Steps of the SSCA
  3. The first and most important chapter of the SSCA Book: ResearchGate free access

Editors’ Choice: The Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing Technique

The order of family drawings

Chapter 7

A Free Course About Interpretation

Institute of Projective Drawings

In contrast to the widely held misconception, the family drawing cannot only be used for children, it is also applicable to adults – with slight modifications.

For adults, use the Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing Technique (Furth, 1993). 

For adults use the Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing: “Draw your family as you saw it when you were 5 ys old, with everyone doing something”

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Instructions For The Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing

Instruction: “Draw your family as you saw it when you were five years old, with everyone doing something.”

Tools: a sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper and color drawing utensils.

Comments: Stick figures are not accepted.

Author: Gregg M. Furth (1993)​

Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing: A Case Study

The order of family drawings

Lack of interaction in a Regressed Kinetic Family Drawing (RKFD)

Source: Vass (2012)

This drawing was made by a 37-year-old named Rita, who came to the psychology clinic with somatisation complaints.

According to the instruction, she drew her family as she saw them at age five. She said she was not happy at that time: her parents, who divorced nine years later, had already begun arguing continuously.

The drawing features lonely, isolated actions; everyone is doing something, but they have nothing to do with each other.

  1. The first figure in the drawing is the father, who turns towards the edge of the page, with his back to the others. He is working in the garden, and Rita said his facial expression was red and angry.
  2. The second figure is the mother, who paid more attention to her brother than to Rita, and whom Rita remembered as always being nervous (she is baking something in the picture). The signs of eraser use around the mother indicate an emotional conflict.
  3. The brother, “poor thing, he was just there”, and his facial expression is sad.
  4. The figure at the right edge of the paper is Rita, who used to go swimming on her own when she was at nursery school. She was doing what she was told to do, on her own.

Note that every figure is isolated from all the others in the drawing. 

The figure representing the subject...

  • has a different orientation compared to the others (horizontal, rather than vertical), which emphasizes her separation;
  • she appears in a different element (in the water) and
  • in a different space (the swimming pool) than the family home.

Although she could be looking towards the viewer, she turns her back in the drawing.

The activity depicted precludes social interaction entirely: swimming is done

  • with the eyes and
  • the mouth closed,
  • with the face towards the water.

The emotional-affective tone and the emotional atmosphere of childhood memories lacks the warmth of love.

Rita is swimming in cold water, discharging a hated obligation, instead of being with her mother or playing.

Now It's Your Turn

  • Download the instruction sheet below and start experimenting with Regressed Kinetic Family Drawings.
  • Draw your own RKFD and try it with your clients.
  • Check ARTIES: our online scientific interpretation software.
  • What are your thoughts on this technique? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

Furth, G. M. (1993). Heilen durch Malen. Olten und Freiburg im Breisgau: Walter.

Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

In the next part: The ultimate collection of the best questions to ask after a family drawing!

The Ultimate Collection Of The Best Questions To Ask

Chapter 8

A Free Course About Interpretation

Institute of Projective Drawings

This family drawing features the mother, the child and the younger sibling. The father is missing from the drawing because “he has gone to work”. The omission of individual family members is a proven indicator of conflict with the person concerned (e.g. Corman, 1965, 1970).

Who is missing in the picture?

The father – because “he has gone to work” (according to the child). The omission of individual family members is a proven indicator of conflict with the person concerned (e.g. Corman, 1965, 1970).

Family drawings are always followed by a post-drawing interview (just as many other projective tests). During the discussion, the therapist discusses the drawings with the client.

It is an important rule that we should ask the client about everything that we do not understand in the drawings. 

With children’s drawings and paintings, the therapist needs to ask a great deal more than with the picture by adults because with them, it is increasingly true that...

...pictorial expression is only a fragment of behavior, and hence it only possible to interpret it in its individual context.

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With family drawings, it is compulsory to ask about the identity of each figures.

Corman (1964) asks the following questions:

  • ​tell me about the family you have just drawn,
  • where are the family members and what are they doing there,
  • the name everyone on the drawing,
  • the roles of all the figures in the family,
  • their age.

Corman also suggested four ingenious questions.

Corman's Four Brilliant Questions That You Should Always Ask

  • ​who is the nicest in the family,
  • who is the least nice,
  • who is the happiest,
  • who is the least happy.

Try them and for each answer, also ask the reason!

Finally we also need to know who the child would prefer to be in the drawn family.

In all cases, after the drawing has been completed, the following should be recorded:

6 Things You Should Absolutely Know Before Assessment

  • the order the figures were made
  • the names of the figures
  • their role in the family (e.g. mother, brother)
  • their age
  • in the case of any symbolic family drawing: the name and meaning of the symbol for the child
  • in the case of kinetic drawing: the illustrated activity (in the subject’s own words)

For any picture in general (drawings, paintings, scribbles etc):

  • ask the client to give a title,
  • ask for the client’s description of the picture,
  • what is most important about the picture,
  • how it speaks about them?

Don't worry if you are feeling overwhelmed by information –you can download every questions below.


A Short Case Study

This family drawing features the mother, the child and the younger sibling. The father is missing from the drawing because “he has gone to work”. The omission of individual family members is a proven indicator of conflict with the person concerned (e.g. Corman, 1965, 1970).

A Freudian primal scene?!

(Source: Vass, 2012)

The picture above is a kinetic family drawing of a six-year-old girl. Note the following:

  • The parents are lying in bed.
  • The child is the third figure from the left,
  • the next one is her brother: they are both asleep.
  • In this drawing, encapsulation of their figures indicates belonging together. It is an additional interesting feature of the drawing that may be related to the Freudian primal scene.
  • The left most figure is the father, who, according to the child’s words, “is looking for his trousers because he is blind, though they are there in his hand. Mother is holding her shawl.”

Notice the separately drawn and shaded (!) genitals of the parents.

Perhaps the child entered the bedroom at an inopportune moment, and that is why the father is grabbing his trousers while the mother picks up a cover of some sort?

However, without more data, this only remains conjecture!

Now It's Your Turn

  • Download the instruction sheet below and start experimenting with it.
  • Make a habit of always discussing the picture with the client.
  • Check "Feelings or thoughts projected into drawing" in ARTIES: the online scientific interpretation software. Click on a feature to quickly find its psychological significance!
  • Are there exceptions that prove the rule? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

Corman, L. (1964). Le test du dessin de famille dans la pra que médico-pédagogique. Paris: P.U.F.

Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

In the next chapter: What is a neurotic family drawing like – The scientific list of conflict indicators!