Aldous Huxley stated that there is only one question
of significance: "who am I, and what, if anything,
can I do about it?" Not surprisingly, this question
lies at the heart of psychotherapy.
Therapists can use different methods to shed
light on the question of identity. I use projective assessment at the outset of
psychotherapy because this form of personality assessment
allows me to generate a three-dimensional picture of
an individual's strengths, style of relating with others,
dominant attributes and challenges. Projective testing captures something of the uniqueness and individuality
of the person. Further,
it explains the underlying structure of the presenting
problem and pinpoints the direction for therapeutic
assessment is extremely useful when dealing with tenacious
and long-standing mental health difficulties and also
when using a brief therapy model designed to facilitate
tangible results in the short term.
assessment requires the client to perform simple pen
and paper tasks, which are then given to the therapist
to analyze. Because
people are fundamentally expressive of who they are,
simple drawing and writing tasks can uncover a great
deal of material about each person.
follows are the directions for preparing projective
materials for assessment.
I explain these requirements to clients who seek
assessment, but include them here for reference purposes,
once individuals have decided they wish to be assessed.
The first task involves writing a one-page handwritten
description of "the story of your day in detail."
The idea here is to recount the story of one
particular day (probably the day you write the piece).
Please do not write what your typical day looks
like. A specific
day is required. On
the back of the page, please write your date of birth
and your gender. Also, I ask for three signatures. If you have different signatures you use when
signing your name you can include them or you can sign
the same signature three times.
The next task requires you to draw a tree with
as much detail as possible.
Please spend no less than five minutes drawing
the tree. This
is not a test of artistic skill.
The less time you spend drawing the tree, the
less useful it is for analysis.
The last task is the most detailed.
I ask for a written description of your ten earliest
memories. Please do not look at old pictures or otherwise
prime yourself. The
task is to record the earliest memories you can remember
- those you can easily access.
These would preferably be memories of events
which occurred prior to the age of 8, or later memories
if earlier memories have been forgotten.
Most people only have a handful of really early
memories that they can access without priming and it
is these that I am looking for.
use the following format: first, write out the memory
with as many details as possible. You are detailing a sequence of events that
your approximate age at the time of this memory.
Ideally, the description should run about a paragraph
or two in length. Underneath this text, please write "vivid
moment," and then record the moment in the memory
to which you are most associated.
If the memory itself is a movie (in your mind's
eye) the vivid moment is a freeze frame. Underneath the vivid moment (which can usually
be described in a sentence or two) you should write
The vivid feeling is the feeling you had at the
time the event occurred. It is not the feeling you have now when you think about the memory.
For individuals who have experienced trauma at a young age, I often
omit this part of the assessment as it can awaken difficult
this is not the case, though, the early memories are
extremely useful for showing you the mechanisms that
underpin your current situation.
|"When the diagnosis is
correct, the healing begins."
|"I think that true psychotherapy
is knowing that each patient is an individual, unique
H. Erickson, M.D.
|"The cure is to let the
individuality come out and flower in all its particular
|"Being under sentence of
termination doth most marvelously concentrate the
after Samual Johnson