Draw a Person Technique
Credited to: Florence Goodenough and Dr. Dale B. Harris
For use with: Children
What you will need:
3 pieces of paper
What you do:
The therapist requests the child to complete three individual drawings on separate pieces of paper. The original instructions require the child to draw a man, a woman, and themselves. I learned it in that the child is asked to draw a person with no other instructions given. If the child draws a man, then the next drawing would be a woman, or vice versa. The final drawing would be a self-portrait. It is preferable that the child draw the whole person each time, head to foot.
The therapist can then "score" the test using a rubric found in Harris' 1963 book. Points are given for various details, such as having 5 fingers on each hand, eyelashes, teeth, or having a proportionality that is feasible.
This is a non-invasive and non-threatening test and it's original purpose was to determine cognitive developmental levels without being influenced by other factors such as language barriers or special needs. The projective nature of the test came about later and were not endorsed by the creators.
However, I've found those projective measure to be spot on many times with the children I've worked with. For example, a child who draws a highly sexualized picture, with eyelashes, lips, jewelry, make-up, etc., typically have some background of sexual trauma. This is a good indication of it.
Also, I like to take the drawing of the child and the drawing of the same-sex and compare them. It's a good indicator of how the child sees themselves--and thus their self-esteem--when you do this. Children unconsciously project this into the drawings, sometimes drawing themselves really small or their feet or some other specific body part really big.
Funny FYI - When my supervisor first did this test on me in supervision, I drew my friend who worked with me as the other female drawing. When compared to mine, clearly, she was FAR more endowed than I was. Being honest, this is exactly how I felt!!