The mechanics of the game are introduced after ascertaining that the child
is interested and willing to draw. The child is asked if he would like to play
a "fun drawing game-the squiggle-drawing game."
game is explained as follows: "Each of us will have a piece of paper
and a pencil. I will draw a squiggle and you will make any kind of drawing you
like out of it, then you'll make up a story about your drawing, and I will ask
a few questions about it (your drawing and story). Then you will draw a squiggle
which I will make a drawing out of, tell a story about it, and you can ask me
questions about it." Thus the game. involves making a drawing out of a squiggle,
telling a story, asking and being asked questions and taking turns. A squiggle
is any variation of a straight, curved, wavy or zigzag line. Skill in drawing
is unimportant, and there is mutual interaction and sharing of thematic material.
After the explanation, or while giving it, the therapist and child sit down side
by side at a table or desk. The therapist provides the child and himself with
paper and pencil for drawing. He also provides himself with a piece of paper for
taking notes. The therapist initiates the game by drawing the first squiggle on
which the child is supposed to build. It is desirable for the child to develop
the first story so that the therapist is better able to decide what theme to use
on his turn. If the child does not understand the directions, the order may be
reversed and the child draws the first squiggle. Once initiated, the game is continued
as long as it is therapeutically productive and interactively enjoyable. The following
examples illustrate the child's response in playing the game:
Aaron, an 11-year-old boy, was in psychotherapy because of compulsive
rituals which he used to ward off angry feelings. He was a shy, quiet boy of above-average
intelligence who did well in school but had poor peer relations. He appeared to
be a good candidate for a drawing game since one of his rituals was drawing detailed
maps. The squiggle-drawing game was introduced in the third interview. In the
fourth interview, his third drawing (Figure 15-1) was of a "prehistoric animal
who survived in a warm valley and finally found a friend of his own kind outside
the valley and wasn't sad anymore because he had a friend." This clearly
dealt with his peer relationship problem.
Beth, an 11 '/2-year-old girl, had been seen in psychotherapy every other
week for almost two years because of behavior difficulties, poor school performance
despite average intelligence, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, poor self-image,
and poor peer relations. She made good use of projective game techniques including
the squiggle-drawing game. Two months before terminating treatment, she was physically
in early adolescence without having started her menses. She played the squiggle
drawing game and her second drawing (Figure 15-2) was of "Cleopatra riding
on her camel and having snakes on her head.. . kings and queens of Egypt have
snakes on their head.. . Cleopatra is going to exercise and ride all over the
desert." The drawing and thematic material suggested a significant improvement
in her self-image through identification with Cleopatra.
The role of the therapist in the game is to carry out an empathic,
collaborative, interactive psychotherapy focused on the child's problems and stage
of development. The therapist is guided by the content and structure of the child's
drawings and stories to help the child express his thoughts, feelings, and concerns
in displaced, thematic form. The therapist shares through his own drawings and
stories his understanding of the child's problems and suggests possible solutions.
The therapist is not only challenged by this technique, but is helped in the process
because the participant child enjoys his own drawing and story-telling as well
as the therapist's. The game is truly collaborative and is part of an ego-oriented
- Schaefer, Charles & Donna Cangelosi, Play Therapy Techniques,
Jason Aronson Inc.: 1993.
Reflection Exercise #10
The preceding section contained information
about the squiggle game. Write three case study examples regarding how you might
use the content of this section in your practice.
Why was Aaron a good candidate for the squiggle game? Record the letter
of the correct answer the .