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The House-Tree-Person Test. Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D. Background. HTP: Draw a house, tree, person, & opposite sex person. Inner view of himself/herself the environment the things considered important. Administration. Pencil & white paper.

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the house tree person test

The House-Tree-Person Test

Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D.

  • HTP: Draw a house, tree, person, & opposite sex person.
  • Inner view of himself/herself
  • the environment
  • the things considered important
  • 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.
  • The Theory behind Projective techniques.
  • Why is the HTP ambiguous?
what do the drawings tell us
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.
what does the drawing of a house tell us
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
the tree the person
The Tree & the person
  • Paul Schilder (1935): the tree & the person touch the core of the personality = body image and self-concept.
  • 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.
  • Overly large roof, overhanging & dwarfing the rest of the house
  • Schizophrenic patients or schizoid p.d.
  • Patients who do not draw a roof or when there is no height to the roof
  • Reinforced by heavy line pressure
  • 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
  • The outline of the walls of the house drawn with a faint and inadequate line quality
  • Inadequate wall periphery
  • Transparent walls
  • 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
  • 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
  • In the drawing of the house, windows represent a secondary medium of interaction with the environment.
  • Emphasis upon window locks.
  • 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.
  • Reinforcement of window outlines, if similar reinforcement does not occur elsewhere in the drawing.
  • Size of the window.
  • Undue importance given to the bathroom by making the window in that room the largest of all the windows.
  • Placement of the windows.
chimney smoke
Chimney Smoke
  • Smoke emphasized.
  • Smoke veering sharply to one side, as if indicating a strong wind.
house perspective
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.
house perspective22
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.
  • The house drawn from the rear, esp. if there is no back door.
  • The rare rear view depictions.
  • 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.
  • difficulty presenting the drawing as a whole
  • For example, choppy or sporadically-up-rooted (in the tree) from the ground and toppling.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
buck 1948
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)
details of the tree
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.
  • 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.
paper based tree
Paper-based tree
  • Employment of the bottom edge of the paper as the groundline, with the drawn picture resting on that edge.
paper based tree34
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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In a general way, the overall impression conveyed by the branches correlates with the broad personality dimensions of the subject.
keyhole tree
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.
split tree
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.
  • The implication of a sense of doom in the drawing of a tree with a buzzard hovering over it.
  • 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.
age ascribed to the tree
Age ascribed to the tree
  • Draw a tiny sapling rather than a full grown tree.
tree depicted as dead
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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
other examples of person drawings
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.
other examples
Other examples
  • A drawn woman who exposes a good deal of her drawn person’s skirt up.
  • Drawing of a clown.
other examples54
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.
other examples55
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.
  • Typically the size tells about the patient’s self-esteem.
  • 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.
pencil pressure
Pencil Pressure
  • Patient’s energy level.
  • Heavy pressure = high energy.
  • Light pressure = low energy
  • Heavy pressure.
  • Unusually light.
stroke line quality
Stroke & Line Quality
  • Long pencil strokes.
  • Short strokes.
  • Horizontal movement emphasis.
  • Vertical movement emphasis.
line quality
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.
lack of detail
Lack of Detail
  • Indicates withdrawal tendencies with an associated reduction of energy.
  • Excessive detailing.
  • 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.
  • Orientation and concern with the past.
  • High on the page.
  • Low on the page.
  • Upper left-hand corner.
  • Upper right-hand corner.
  • Excessive erasure.
  • Excessive shading.
  • Some shading (& erasure) is an adaptive mechanism – an attempt to give the drawing a sense of 3 – dimensionality.
distortions and omissions
Distortions and Omissions
  • Gross distortion.
  • Moderate distortions and omissions.
  • Transparency can indicate poor reality ties, except, of course in the drawings of young children who are typically normal.
sex of first drawn figure
Sex of First Drawn Figure
  • Most drawn same sex first (85 – 95%). What if they don’t?
interpretations concerning body parts
Interpretations concerning body parts
  • Head:
    • Symbol of intellectual & fantasy activity
    • Symbol of impulse & emotional control
    • Symbol of socialization and communication
    • Unusually large?
    • Unusually small?
  • Hair
    • Overemphasis
    • Absent?
facial features
Facial Features
  • Omitted?
  • Over-emphasis of facial features.
  • Unusually large or strongly reinforced eyes.
  • Unusually small or closed eyes.
  • Considered a phallic symbol or a symbol of power motive.
  • Large nose.
  • Omitted?
  • Nose drawn as a button or a triangle.
  • Sharply-pointed.
  • Shaded, dim, or truncated.
  • Regressive defenses; oral emphasis in the personality.
  • What if the mouth was omitted?
other features of the mouth
Other features of the mouth
  • Slash line?
  • Tiny mouth.
  • Mouth with large grin.
  • Teeth (adult)?
  • Ears are often omitted by normal subjects.
  • What if they are drawn in?
  • Over-emphasized chin.
  • Link between intellectual life and affect.
  • Unusually short, thick neck.
  • Unusually long neck.
  • Neck omitted?
  • Well-drawn and neatly rounded shoulders – typically normal.
  • Broad shoulders.
  • Absence of shoulders.
  • Tiny shoulders.
  • Large or broad shoulders.
  • Unusually large breasts drawn by male.
  • Unusually large breasts drawn by females.
  • A heavy line separating the lower body from the rest of the body.
  • Unusually high or low waistline.
  • Excessively tight waist.
  • Elaborate belt.
  • 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?
  • How do children typically draw the trunk?
  • Large trunk.
  • Trunk omitted by an adult.
  • Small trunk.
  • Genitalia = rarely drawn.
  • What does it mean if it is drawn?
  • Normal for art students and persons in psychoanalysis & sex therapy patients.
arms hands fingers
Arms, Hands, Fingers
  • Arms = type and quality of the patient’s contact with environment.
  • Arms relaxed & flexible.
  • Arms folded.
  • Arms behind the back.
  • Hands placed behind the back.
  • Large hands.
  • Small 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.
  • Long figures.
  • Omission of fingers.
  • Talon-like fingers or spiked fingers.
  • Legs or feet.
  • Crossed legs.
  • Long legs.
  • Short legs.
  • Elongated or large feet
  • Emphasis on feet
  • Omission of feet
  • Small feet
evaluation of the htp
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.
other advantages
Other advantages
  • Requires little time and is simple to administer.
  • Culture-free technique – do not need elaborate command of language to get information.
  • 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.
  • 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.