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!

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