This is an activity designed to encourage self-expression and celebration of the Self.
- Poster board
- Colored pencils
- Compass or plastic/paper cup
- Have the players select the theme that will guide the drawing
- In the above drawing Rachel’s theme is primarily the mandala motif
- Other themes may include houses, people, landscapes
- Encourage the players to illustrate how they feel in the here-and-now
- Rachel felt she wanted to create something that would be uniquely hers
- Rachel enjoys going to the beach during the summer. Notice that the mandala drawing on the left foreground resembles a constellation of interrelated beach balls
- After the drawing is completed, ask the players if they would like to describe the meaning of the drawing
- Rachel appreciates order and routine in her daily life and this has been depicted in the drawing’s sense of order
Although commonly used by art therapists to discover trauma, children’s drawings may also be used for self-expression and to highlight a healthy relationship a child may have with the Self, which may serve as a marker from which to draw contrast in the future. Macleod, Gross, and Hayne (2013) suggest that children’s drawings may provide clinicians with far better information than verbal communication.
Based on Piaget’s developmental model 12-year old Rachel is in the formal operational stage (12-16 years old). During this stage a preteen’s cognitive operations become sophisticated. During this stage we would expect a preteen to begin to look at situations from different perspectives.
Rachel’s drawing represents a placemat she has made for herself. Her drawing of the interlocking circles in the lower left foreground was an attempt to draw mandalas within a square. Jung (1959) argues that mandalas represent the Self. Jungian-oriented therapist Fincher (2009) suggests that “creating mandalas offers us a creative way to know ourselves better” (p. 2). The mandala motif in Rachel’s drawing is also detected in the circular image representing a cup and in a flower ornament Rachel drew approximately in the middle of the drawing. Notice how she is contrasting the implied horizontal line underneath her name featured in large letters with the implied vertical image to the right representing a napkin and silverware.
Lange-Küttner (2014) submits that it is after the age of nine that we begin to see children’s drawings interrelating verticals and horizontal lines with a perspective in mind. This is important as the ability to develop one’s own perspective is a crucial milestone in cognitive development. Developing one’s perspective is pivotal in an effort to avoid enmeshment in the family (blurred or nonexistent boundaries). By looking closely, one may argue Rachel might have been inclined to define herself in a very clear manner placing her name on large letters at the top of the placemat.
Dougherty, J., & Ray, D. (2007). Differential impact of play therapy on developmental levels of children. International Journal of Play Therapy, 16, 2-19.
Fincher, S. (2009). The mandala workbook: A creative guide for self-expression, balance, and well-being. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Jung, C.G. (1959). Mandala symbolism. Hull, R.F.C. trans. (1972). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Lange-Küttner, C. (2014). Do drawing stages really exist? Children’s early mapping of perspective. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 8, 168-192.
MacLeod, E.M Gross, J., & Hayne, H. (2013). The clinical and forensic value of information that children report while drawing. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27, 564-573.
Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams and imitation in childhood. New York, NY: Norton & Co.