Foundation promotes graphology in field of mental
By CYNTHIA GASNER
Special to The CJN
|Annette Poizner of the Milton H. Erickson
Institute of Toronto |
Graphology, or handwriting analysis, is being introduced as
a serious assessment tool for mental health professionals in
North America, says an expert on the subject.
Torontonian Annette Poizner, who recently completed her PhD
in counselling psychology at OISE at the University of Toronto
on the use of graphology in psychotherapy, says graphology is
underused in clinical practice.
While Poizner was training in Israel a decade ago,
graphology was being used more frequently there than any other
personality test, including by moshavim when admitting new
residents, by companies looking for new employees and by
Israeli clinical psychologists.
“When used alongside other projective assessment measures,
graphology can reveal the underlying and often obscured
personal issues that drive a range of mental health problems,
including tenacious conditions that involve obsessive
compulsive symptoms – conditions that are often only minimally
responsive to traditional psychotherapy,” says Poizner, who is
also a graduate of the Columbia University School of Social
“Projective assessment” includes the analysis of
handwriting and drawings, as well as the interpretation of
early memories. When symptoms have been resistant to
treatment, projective assessment tends to show that, though
the symptoms may be problematic, they are not the root
problem, Poizner says.
“Most symptoms are seemingly imposed by the unconscious
mind to manage another problem that has evaded conscious
awareness. The root problem needs to be identified and
She says when this occurs, symptoms will often improve
quickly and dramatically.
Poizner is a director of the Milton H. Erickson Institute
of Toronto, which trains therapists in the use of hypnosis and
other applications of Ericksonian psychotherapy. The Milton E.
Erickson Foundation is an international consortium that
promotes the use of techniques developed by the famous
psychiatrist, who did not believe in drawn-out therapy.
“Erickson was skeptical about Freudian-type psychology,”
says Poizner, who founded the institute with Jennifer Walsh.
“He was working with the unconscious mind rather than
She says, “When psychotherapy has not helped a client after
a year and the client is still struggling with an obsession,
the therapist really needs to look under the hood, so to
Projective testing brings out problems nobody knew about
before, she says.
“You have to change the focus of therapy. These tests help
us redirect therapy when therapy is stuck. They also let us
In her dissertation, Poizner wrote that several clients and
therapists were surprised by the accuracy of handwriting
“There is an excitement and trend in psychotherapy to get
results quickly by using strategic short-term approaches. The
people who come for Brief Therapy [a counselling method
influenced by Erickson’s work] are usually people who have
tried conventional therapy without success.
“I am trying to bring graphology and projective testing to
the attention of colleagues, so they can see how it expedites
Poizner founded and currently chairs the Jewish Health
Alliance, a grassroots network for health-care practitioners
with an interest in the relationship between Jewish thought
Poizner will be speaking at Israel’s: The Judaica Centre,
870A Eglinton Ave. W. on Thursday, July 8 at 8 p.m. about
“Handwriting and Personality.” The cost is $10.