Exploring Family Drawings with Children Elaborating Role Relationships, Self-Other Constructions

Publication Name

Journal of Constructivist Psychology


Core constructs formed in relationship with the primary caregiver develop into patterns of relating behaviors which manifest in several areas of the child’s life in their thoughts, actions and feelings of significant relationships. These core constructs direct and contribute to the child’s sense of how they construe relationships and to their understanding of themselves, and of the world in which they live. However attachment ruptures do interrupt profoundly the child’s ability to form these role relations with family members. Drawing on research in personal construct psychology, attachment and developmental trauma, the design study, the assumptions and the application behind the tool (Family Portrait Evaluation Tool) are provided. It was anticipated the tool would capture changes in the structure and complexity of the child’s family drawing, and also in the child’s responses to the five questions in the tool as the child elaborates role relationships, his/her self-other constructions, over the course of psychotherapy using a personal construct approach. These clinical experiments using the “Family Portrait Evaluation Tool” are illustrated. There is a discussion of the usefulness of this tool as a measure of therapeutic outcome in child psychotherapy, and that the tool can reflect reconstruing by the child as he/she reconnects with their family.

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