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Manual of Articles Sections 15 - 29
each drawing is individually configured and unique in meaning, common pictorial
symbols and metaphors of human figures and animals, place and weather, and toys
and games usually convey fairly general meanings-albeit at times with wide variance
from one culture to another (Oster and Gould, 1987). For example, alligators and
other big mouth animals may be used to reflect nurturant needs or oral aggression;
dogs and other cuddly animals, companionship and transitional objects; or birds,
flight and freedom. Caves may hide and protect or, conversely, trap. Mountains
may be attainments, obstacles, or something else entirely. Rain may reflect crying
or be cleansing. Snow seems cold, the sun warm. How then, with these and the myriads
of other possible meanings, does the clinical social worker figure out what a
particular child has in mind? In part, the answer lies in asking the child directly
(Timberlake, 1978a; Webb, 1991). In addition, the representational ways in which
individual children condense multiple metaphors, details, and memories into one
picture and their action style in doing so provide indirect clues to the more
individualized meaning in their drawings. To make educated decisions about which
of these polar opposite or nuanced generic meanings most accurately represents
a nonverbal child's intended meaning, clinicians draw on their understanding of
this child gained during psychosocial assessment and other interviews, comment
on the observable, and await the child's own nonverbal or verbal confirmation
that the observation is accurate or not.
3.4, 3.5, and 3.7 pick up a recurring sexual theme of the birds and bees.
This theme surfaced as the clinical social worker began dealing with the parents'
marital problems and working with them to move Althea out of the marital bed and
back to her own room. This six-month-long theme slowly shifted as Althea became
increasingly comfortable with her parents' realignment in their couple and parental
roles. In Figure 3.7, for example, the bees are loudly communicating.
Figure 3.6 (about two thirds of the way through treatment and in the midst of the recurring birds and bees sexual narrative) is a graphic representation of Althea's reaction to the clinical social worker's vacation-the wicked witch flies away leaving the scared ghost to deal with the fearful house alone. Figures 3.8 and 3.9 represent Althea's self-portraits at termination, presenting quite a marked contrast to her initial portrayal of self and a definite lessening of the heavily constricted boundaries surrounding her earlier picture.
Therapeutic use of drawing is based on the assumption that child clients project their perceptions, feelings, conflicts, and developmental disturbances into their pictures. A note of caution is in order, however, as children's drawings are also influenced by (1) techniques and symbols taught in school; (2) symbols and metaphors familiar in their familial and cultural environments (Sutton-Smith, 1986); (3) psychosocial developmental stage, visual perceptual ability, and motor-muscular coordination; and (4) availability of particular drawing tools, colors, and paper.
The symbolic representations in their drawings offer child clients a sense
of control over the external and internal forces depicted. The process of drawing
provides opportunity for them to relive their experiences in an active role, even
though the original role may have been passive or overwhelming. While integrative
and healing properties are present in this creative process, it is important to
note that the cathartic effect alone is not sufficient for lasting change (Barlow,
Landreth, and Strother, 1985). For change to occur, the clinical social worker
searches for the additional clues about children's conflicts, problems, and distortions
of reality that are found in the drawings and related narratives. By following
the child's therapeutic process, the clinician is able to encourage further exploration
and comprehension, not only of the content being expressed in a picture or picture
series, but also of the underlying developmental and conflictual themes. For example,
child clients provide the key to their own unique symbolic logic, mental processes,
and core conflictual themes through their picture content, distortions and emphases,
inclusions and omissions, drawing style, and accompanying narrative. In using
this play activity, it is easy to see that the clinician may either work within
the metaphor and interpret only in terms of the picture itself or encourage verbalized
self-observation, autobiographical narrative, reflection, and insight as part
of the therapeutic process. Thus, through their drawings, children are helped
to observe, interpret, and communicate their understanding of themselves and their
world, their attitudes and affects, their issues and conflicts, their strengths
Parent–Child Interaction Therapy: current perspectives
- Lieneman, C. C., Brabson, L. A., Highlander, A., Wallace, N. M., & McNeil, C. B. (2017). Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: current perspectives. Psychology research and behavior management, 10, 239–256. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S91200.
Reflection Exercise #1
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