The House-Tree-Person Test

					The House-Tree-
Person Test

Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D.




                             1
Background
• HTP: Draw a house, tree, person, &
  opposite sex person.
• Inner view of himself/herself
• the environment
• the things considered important


                                       2
Administration
• Pencil & white paper.
• Patient asked to draw a good house (as
  good as possible), take as much time as
  needed, erase anything you need to.
• Then the pencil is taken away & you can
  use crayons in anyway to shade in or
  draw.
                                            3
Projectives
• The Theory behind Projective
  techniques.
• Why is the HTP ambiguous?




                                 4
What do the drawings tell
us?
• The inclusion or exclusion of the various
  details of the HTP s left wholly to the
  patient.
• Hammer (1955) looked at the drawings
  of normals versus sex offenders.



                                              5
What does the drawing of a
house tell us?
• Associations concerning home-life
• Intrafamilial relationships
• Attitude toward their home situation
  (children)
• Relationships to parents and siblings
• Married adults

                                          6
The Tree & the person
• Paul Schilder (1935): the tree & the
  person touch the core of the personality
  = body image and self-concept.




                                             7
House
• Roof: fantasy area of their lives.
  – Bats in the belfry
  – Fantasy distorts one’s mental functioning is
    spoken of in terms of an impairment in the
    individual’s roof.




                                                   8
House
• Overly large roof, overhanging &
  dwarfing the rest of the house
• Schizophrenic patients or schizoid p.d.




                                            9
Roof
• Patients who do not draw a roof or when
  there is no height to the roof
• Reinforced by heavy line pressure




                                            10
Walls
• The strength and accuracy of the
  depicted walls of the house are directly
  related to the degree of ego-strength in
  the personality.
• Crumbling walls
• Reinforced boundary of walls

                                             11
Walls
• The outline of the walls of the house
  drawn with a faint and inadequate line
  quality
• Inadequate wall periphery
• Transparent walls


                                           12
Door
• The door is the detail of the house that
  allows direct contact with the
  environment.
• A door that is tiny in relation to the size
  of the windows and the house
• The door placed high above the house’s
  baseline and not made more
  approachable by steps
                                                13
Door
• The overly large door.
• The drawing of the door as open
• If the house is said to be vacant, the
  open door connotes ?
• Emphasis upon locks and/or hinges


                                           14
Windows
• In the drawing of the house, windows
  represent a secondary medium of
  interaction with the environment.
• Emphasis upon window locks.




                                         15
Windows
• Shutters or curtains added to the window
  and presented as closed.
• Shutters, shades, or curtains put on the
  windows but presented as open or
  partially open.
• Windows completely bare, without
  curtains or shades nor crosshatching.
                                         16
Windows
• Reinforcement of window outlines, if
  similar reinforcement does not occur
  elsewhere in the drawing.
• Size of the window.




                                         17
Bathroom
• Undue importance given to the bathroom
  by making the window in that room the
  largest of all the windows.




                                       18
Windows
• Placement of the windows.




                              19
Chimney Smoke
• Smoke emphasized.
• Smoke veering sharply to one side, as if
  indicating a strong wind.




                                             20
House Perspective
• The house drawn as if the viewer is
  above and looking down upon it (the
  birds-eye view).
• Worm’s eye view - in which the house is
  presented as if the viewer is below and
  looking up at it.


                                            21
House Perspective
• Absolute profile refers to a house drawn
  with only the side presented to the
  viewer.
• The front of the house, including the door
  or other entrance, is turned away making
  it unseen and less accessible.


                                           22
Perspective
• The house drawn from the rear, esp. if
  there is no back door.
• The rare rear view depictions.




                                           23
Groundline
• The relationship of the drawn house,
  tree, person to the groundline reflects the
  patient’s degree of contact with reality.
• Whether the contact with the ground is
  either firm or tenuous is of major
  diagnostic interest.


                                            24
Groundline
• difficulty presenting the drawing as a
  whole
• For example, choppy or sporadically-up-
  rooted (in the tree) from the ground and
  toppling.



                                             25
Accessories
• Some patients directly reveal their
  feelings of insecurity by having to
  surround and buttress their house with
  many bushes, trees, and other details
  unrelated to the instruction.
• A walkway, easily drawn and well
  proportioned, leading to the door.
                                           26
Accessories
• A long and winding walkway.
• A walkway excessively wide at the end
  toward the viewer and leading in a direct
  line to the door, but with the width of the
  walkway narrowing too sharply.
• Fences placed around the drawn house
  are a defensiveness maneuver.
                                            27
Tree
• The adult mind is capable of voluntarily
  assuming different attitudes in its perception
  and experience of the environment.
• The person can be at one moment the
  detached observer; the next moment be open
  receptively to all the impressions from the
  environment and the feelings and pleasures
  aroused by them; and in the next project
  himself or herself in emphatic experience with
  some object of the environment.

                                                   28
Tree
• The tree has been the symbol for life and
  growth.
• What if the patient neglects the
  branches?
• Sometimes patients will draw a tree that
  is tossed by the wind and broken by
  storms.
                                          29
Buck (1948)
• The trunk = a patient’s feeling of basic
  power and inner strength (ego strength)
• The branch = patient’s feelings of ability
  to derive satisfaction from the
  environment (a more unconscious level
  of the same area tapped by the arms
  and hands on the person)
                                               30
Details of the Tree
• Trunk
  – Index of the basic strength of the personality
  – Reinforced peripheral lines in this area of the tree.
  – Faint, sketchy, or perforated lines employed for the
    tree trunk, and not elsewhere in the drawing.
  – Holes placed in the trunk and animals shown
    peeping out of them.



                                                        31
Roots
• overemphasis upon the roots of the tree
  as it makes contact with, and takes hold
  of, the ground.
• A talon-like grasps (the roots depicted as
  if straining to hold onto the ground).
• Roots drawn as if transparent.

                                           32
Paper-based tree
• Employment of the bottom edge of the
  paper as the groundline, with the drawn
  picture resting on that edge.




                                            33
Paper-based Tree
• The use of faint lines, reflecting the
  depressive’s sapping of energy and
  drive, as well as the favorite tree content
  – a weeping willow – may provide clues
  to aid the differential interpretation.



                                                34
Branches
• Branches represent the patient’s felt resources
  for seeking satisfaction from the environment.
• Overly long arms extending away from the
  body as if striving manfully, but the tree shows
  truncated and broken branches.
• Branch structures presented as tall and
  narrow, reaching unduly upward and minimally
  outward to the sides.
                                                 35
Branches
• At times, a subject will emphasize the upward
  reaching of the branch structure to the point
  where the top of the tree extends off beyond
  the page’s top.
• Occasionally a patient will abruptly flatten the
  top of the foliage area or crown of the tree.
• One-dimensional branches, that do not form a
  system and are inadequately joined to a one-
  dimensional trunk (segmentalization).
                                                     36
Branches
• Flexibility of the branch structure, with
  the organization of the branches
  proceeding form thick to thin in a
  proximal-distal direction.
• Branches that appear club-like or look
  spear-like with excessively sharpened
  points at the ends, or appear to have
  barb-like thorns along their surface.
                                              37
Branches
• Two-dimensional branches drawn and
  unclosed at the distal end.
• Branches that are drawn so that they
  actually look more phallic-like than
  branch-like.
• Broken branches and cut-off branches.

                                          38
Branches
• If the tree trunk itself is truncated and
  tiny branches grow from the stump.
• Branches that turn inward toward the
  tree instead of reaching outward toward
  the environment.
• An overly large branch structure placed
  on top of a relatively tiny tree trunk.
                                              39
Branches
• If the opposite extreme occurs, e.g. a
  tiny branch topping an overly large trunk.
• IF children’s drawings, particularly
  branches, are sometimes drawn
  reaching appealing to the sun.



                                           40
Branches
• Occasionally, a child will draw a tree as
  bending away from a large and low-
  placed sun.
• This is rare: secondary branches that
  are drawn spike-like and imbedded like
  thorns into the flesh of primary branches.


                                           41
Branches
• The points of ordinary branches, rather
  than being at the outer end, are at the
  point of contact with the tree trunk or with
  the branches from which they grow.
  These small branches appear to dig into,
  rather than grow from, the larger
  branches.

                                             42
Branches
• In a general way, the overall impression
  conveyed by the branches correlates
  with the broad personality dimensions of
  the subject.




                                             43
Keyhole Tree
• The depiction of the trunk and foliage
  area as if one continuous line without a
  line separating the crown from the trunk,
  looks like a keyhole.




                                              44
Split Tree
• The name for this drawing comes from
  the fact that the sidelines of the trunk do
  not have any lines connecting them to
  each other; they extend upward, each
  one forming its own independent branch
  structure.


                                                45
Theme
• The implication of a sense of doom in the
  drawing of a tree with a buzzard
  hovering over it.




                                          46
Tree
• Pregnant women often offer fruit trees
  and depressed patients, shows a
  propensity for weeping willows.
• Young children will frequently draw apple
  trees; 35% of kindergarten children; 9%
  at the age of 10; and close to none by 14
  years old.
                                          47
Age ascribed to the tree
• Draw a tiny sapling rather than a full
  grown tree.




                                           48
Tree Depicted as Dead
• Ask the patient, “is that tree alive?”. If
  the patient responds that the tree is dead
  has been associated with significantly
  maladjusted.




                                           49
Person
• Self-portraits depict what patients feel
  themselves to be.
• Abstract ability allows the non-mirror
  image depiction (e.g. the patient’s right
  side to be portrayed by the drawn
  person’s right side).


                                              50
Person
• In addition to the physical self, the patient
  projects a picture of the psychological self into
  the drawing of the person. For example:
• Patients of adequate or superior height may
  draw a tiny figure with arms dangling rather
  helplessly away from the sides and a
  beseeching facial expression.


                                                  51
Other examples of person
drawings
•   Aggressive, devil like person
•   Toppling person losing equilibrium
•   Mannequin-like clothes dummy
•   Adolescent’s drawn person carrying a
    baseball bat in one hand, a tennis racket
    in the other, and wearing a mustache on
    his lip.
                                            52
Other examples
• A drawn woman who exposes a good
  deal of her drawn person’s skirt up.
• Drawing of a clown.




                                         53
Other Examples
• Drawing of a person slumped into an
  arm chair rather than standing on feet
  (statistically norm).
• Drawing of a woman with her hands
  thrust ecstatically in her hair wile dancing
  alone to music.
• Man with rigidly erect body with the
  absolute side view presenting.
                                             54
Other Examples
• Adolescent boys frequently draw
  muscular athletes attired in bathing suits,
  while adolescent girls draw female movie
  star figures wearing evening gowns
• Ego-ideal
• Draw ego-ideal … better prognosis.

                                            55
Size
• Typically the size tells about the patient’s
  self-esteem.




                                             56
Size
• May also be related to self-confidence.
• Unusually large drawings indicate
  aggressive and acting-out tendencies.
• May also mean manic or expansive
  tendencies, anxiety/conflict.
• Unusually small.

                                            57
Pencil Pressure
•   Patient’s energy level.
•   Heavy pressure = high energy.
•   Light pressure = low energy
•   Heavy pressure.
•   Unusually light.


                                    58
Stroke & Line Quality
•   Long pencil strokes.
•   Short strokes.
•   Horizontal movement emphasis.
•   Vertical movement emphasis.



                                    59
Line Quality
• Discontinuous line quality, e.g. many
  breaks in the outside boundary of the
  figures.
• Drawings, where the outline of the figure
  seems to be so discontinuous that it
  appears as a series of disconnected
  dashes.
• Straight, uninterrupted strokes.
                                          60
Lack of Detail
• Indicates withdrawal tendencies with an
  associated reduction of energy.
• Excessive detailing.




                                            61
Placement
• Placement in the middle of the page=
  typical of most normal patients.
• On the right side of the page.
• On the left side of the page.




                                         62
Placement
•   Orientation and concern with the past.
•   High on the page.
•   Low on the page.
•   Upper left-hand corner.
•   Upper right-hand corner.


                                             63
Erasure
• Excessive erasure.




                       64
Shading
• Excessive shading.
• Some shading (& erasure) is an adaptive
  mechanism – an attempt to give the
  drawing a sense of 3 – dimensionality.




                                        65
Distortions and Omissions
• Gross distortion.
• Moderate distortions and omissions.




                                        66
Transparency
• Transparency can indicate poor reality
  ties, except, of course in the drawings of
  young children who are typically normal.




                                               67
Sex of First Drawn Figure
• Most drawn same sex first (85 – 95%).
  What if they don’t?




                                          68
Interpretations concerning
body parts
• Head:
  – Symbol of intellectual & fantasy activity
  – Symbol of impulse & emotional control
  – Symbol of socialization and communication
  – Unusually large?
  – Unusually small?


                                                69
Hair
• Hair
  – Overemphasis
  – Absent?




                   70
Facial Features
• Omitted?
• Over-emphasis of facial features.
• Unusually large or strongly reinforced
  eyes.
• Unusually small or closed eyes.


                                           71
Nose
• Considered a phallic symbol or a symbol
  of power motive.
• Large nose.
• Omitted?




                                        72
Nose
• Nose drawn as a button or a triangle.
• Sharply-pointed.
• Shaded, dim, or truncated.




                                          73
Mouth
• Regressive defenses; oral emphasis in
  the personality.
• What if the mouth was omitted?




                                          74
Other features of the mouth
•   Slash line?
•   Tiny mouth.
•   Mouth with large grin.
•   Teeth (adult)?



                             75
Ears


• Ears are often omitted by normal
  subjects.
• What if they are drawn in?




                                     76
Chin
• Over-emphasized chin.




                          77
Neck
•   Link between intellectual life and affect.
•   Unusually short, thick neck.
•   Unusually long neck.
•   Neck omitted?



                                                 78
Shoulders
• Well-drawn and neatly rounded
  shoulders – typically normal.
• Broad shoulders.
• Absence of shoulders.
• Tiny shoulders.
• Large or broad shoulders.

                                  79
Breasts
• Unusually large breasts drawn by male.
• Unusually large breasts drawn by
  females.




                                           80
Waistline
• A heavy line separating the lower body
  from the rest of the body.
• Unusually high or low waistline.
• Excessively tight waist.
• Elaborate belt.


                                           81
Trunk
• Body symbolizes basic drives and
  therefore, attitudes related to the
  development and integration of these
  drives in the personality indicated by the
  manner in which the trunk is drawn.
• If body drawn in fragmented fashion?


                                               82
Trunk
•   How do children typically draw the trunk?
•   Large trunk.
•   Trunk omitted by an adult.
•   Small trunk.



                                            83
Genitalia
• Genitalia = rarely drawn.
• What does it mean if it is drawn?
• Normal for art students and persons in
  psychoanalysis & sex therapy patients.




                                           84
Arms, Hands, Fingers
• Arms = type and quality of the patient’s
  contact with environment.
• Arms relaxed & flexible.
• Arms folded.
• Arms behind the back.


                                             85
Hands
• Hands placed behind the back.
• Large hands.
• Small hands.




                                  86
Hands
• Hands drawn as mittens suggest repressed or
  suppressed aggressive tendencies with the
  aggression expressed indirectly.
• Clenched figures = aggression and
  rebelliousness, or conscious attempts to
  control anger.
• Fingers without hands, or large fingers in adult
  drawings indicate regression; or infantile
  aggressive assaultive tendencies.
                                                 87
Hands
• Long figures.
• Omission of fingers.
• Talon-like fingers or spiked fingers.




                                          88
Legs
•   Legs or feet.
•   Crossed legs.
•   Long legs.
•   Short legs.



                    89
Feet
•   Elongated or large feet
•   Emphasis on feet
•   Omission of feet
•   Small feet



                              90
Evaluation of the HTP
• Nonverbal technique = greater
  applicability to children.
• Also good for patients with limited
  education, limited intellectual ability, low
  SES, culturally deprived backgrounds, or
  those who are shy and withdrawn; those
  who dk speak English, or who are mute.
                                             91
Other advantages
• Requires little time and is simple to
  administer.
• Culture-free technique – do not need
  elaborate command of language to get
  information.



                                          92
Disadvantages
• Verbal patients are less responsive to
  graphic techniques than to other
  projectives, like the TAT or Rorschach.
• Psychomotor difficulties such as physical
  handicaps or tremulousness (geriatric
  patients) impede the analysis. Their
  personality expression is held back by
  their motoric handicap.
                                          93
Disadvantages
• Patients with a paucity of inner life, such
  as the schizoid patient, provide a barren
  personality profile. These patients need
  something external to stimulate their
  mental processes.



                                                94