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Free drawing technique


Each child is different, although they share similar characteristics in some stages of development, we never know what we will find when parents send their children to therapy. There are the most extroverts, without difficulties to maintain a conversation according to their age and there are also introverts, who find it difficult to express themselves or prefer not to speak with the therapist.

Projective tests are a strategy that can be used to understand the child’s internal psychological state; This strategy is designed to allow the child to respond openly to an ambiguous stimulus to reveal internal conflicts and subconscious distress. Among the most widely used projective tests in children’s therapies we can highlight the free drawing technique.

What is the free drawing technique?

The free drawing technique, like all projective graphic techniques, explores the personality of the subject. It allows us to offer the child to freely project his world on a sheet. This test is generally applied from the beginning of the phallic stage of psychosexual development (from 3 years), until the end of the latency period (around 12 years).

Through drawing, the child will be able to express himself in his own way and his therapist will be able to understand his desires, his internal conflicts or his unconscious cognitions that cannot be revealed in any other way.

One of the advantages of this technique  is that it does not depend on the child’s verbal capacity and it is not invasive, in addition to being applied quickly, with material at hand, it can be reapplied in a short time and it is pleasant for children .

A disadvantage of this technique is that in adults it generates a lot of resistance since it implies a regression to previous stages in development. In turn, in people with different motor or visual disabilities, viability is complicated and a lot of clinical experience is also needed to be able to interpret them.

How does the free drawing technique work?

Every graphic technique consists of  two steps:

  1. Graphing: when the subject draws
  2. Verbal item: the therapist and the patient will talk about the drawing

For the application of   free drawing as a projective technique, a legal sheet  , pencil number 2, rubber are needed  and colors can be used, since this additive also provides elements to work with.

The slogan is simple: if it is a child, it is told  “draw whatever you want”  and if it is an adult,  “draw whatever you want . ” In relation to the application itself, the sheet with a horizontal  axis is presented  (it tells us about passivity) and we see how the subject acts. This can rotate it (it tells us about the activity, the active) or fold it.

Three times are taken :

  1. Reaction : from when the command is given until it begins to graph
  2. Delay : the actual graphing
  3. Total: sum of the previous two

After the subject draws, the verbal reagent is started , which will depend on what has been graphed, the elements that appear in the drawing and the colors used (if colors have been used). For example: “Tell me, what did you draw here?” , «Tell me a bit», «what do you think you wanted to express in this drawing?». E l only therapist should ask and listen in these cases, you should never make assumptions about the drawing, as to do so, could persuade the reality of the patient and the treatment would be invalid.

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Thanks to this technique we can see what actions were reflected in the graph, that is, see what is happening to the patient; for example, if you draw people you will wonder who or who they are and if they are related to each other; If you draw a house, you will find out who lives there, what the environment is like. In case of the appearance of abstract graphics, what is common in adolescents , you will wonder what he wanted to draw, what it means to him and what he thinks I am trying to express with his drawing .

This type of technique is commonly brought up and / or applied in the return interview , as a closure of the process that always implies an opening to more.

What are the stages of drawing in a child?

The development of children’s drawing can be divided into four stages, according to their cognitive and motor maturation.

Scribbling Stage: This stage begins around  15 months.  Here the child does not express his reality, he only draws marks and lines without their own meaning. Only at the end of this stage (at three or four years), when the child develops his emotions in a more controlled way, can the technique of free drawing be implemented.

Pre-schematic stage: it begins at three or four years of age and extends to approximately seven years. It is a stage where the elements that were taken from the scribbling stage are transformed and the children begin to capture their reality on a sheet of paper. They begin to consciously draw figures, people, houses and other elements that surround them.

Schematic stage: it  begins at the age of seven and ends at approximately nine. At this stage, although children have not yet developed most of their cognitive processes, they begin to develop thought processes  that resemble those of adults. They present more precision and elaboration in their drawings and are capable of representing a situation that may have had an impact on their psyche.

Stage of the gang or realism: it is the last stage of the development of drawing in the child. It goes from nine to twelve years old. At this stage, the child – who is entering a process of changes, approaching adolescence – represents a direct relationship between his experience and the pictured object, in other words, the child tends to relate the pictured object to an event or experience you have had with it.  Realism is given by the child’s experience with the particular object.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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