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A Family Art Evaluation


  • This paper was first delivered as part of an illustrated slide-lecture at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Psychiatric Services for Children, November, 1971. The authors wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to Marvin I. Shapiro, M.D., for his major role in establishing and facilitating the use of the expressive arts at the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Center.


A two-hour family art evaluation session has been designed by an art therapist and a clinical child psychologist. It has been used in a child guidance center for the past four years by the authors and other staff.

All family members are asked to engage in three tasks: (a) individually developing a scribble into a picture; (b) individually creating a family portrait, and (c) jointly deciding upon and executing a mural. Each task is followed by individual and group discussion of products, associations, and feelings aroused. Occasional “free” art products are collected during the session.

The procedure is discussed and illustrated in terms of the rationale for selection of tasks; the sources of data available on individuals, family characteristics, and family interaction patterns; the relationship of the projective and behavioral data to diagnostic conclusions and treatment recommendations; and the implementation and modifications of the technique within the clinic.