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Amy Kawecki

Emily Noll

Joe Legacy

Psychology 542

Wednesday, 4:30-7:00


Smith, G.M. (1985). The Collaborative Drawing Technique. Journal of Personality Assessment,            Vol. 49(6), 582-585.

The Collaborative Drawing Technique Summary

            The Collaborative Technique was created by Gavin Smith in an attempt to simplify the way in which family interaction is measured.  The test was designed to be a practical form of measuring family interaction with minimal time, effort, and equipment demands.  The Collaborative Drawing Technique draws the ideas behind the techniques used in the Kinetic Family Drawing.  However, the Collaborative Drawing Technique is an extended and modified form of the Kinetic Family Drawing.  The CDT examines the interactionist views of behavior, which signifies that the test favors the “state” theory.  The “state” theory holds the assumption that behavior is strongly affected by the individual’s environment.  Therefore, the CDT’s primary focus is to obtain information about the functioning of the individual within the dynamics of the family. 

            The Collaborative Drawing Technique is a structured nonverbal interactive task administered to a family while a therapist observes.  The materials needed to assign this test include: different colored crayons, a stopwatch, 12 x 18 drawing paper, and a desk with a chair to help facilitate the process.  Instructions are given before the test and then one member of the family volunteers to perform the task of drawing first.  The participant is encouraged to draw whatever she or he may fancy.  The therapist allows the participant thirty seconds to draw whatever they like for the first round.  After the time is up, the next family member volunteers and this procedure continues in the same manner for each member.  As the test continues, the progressive reduction of the time frame heightens the intensity of the experience.  The CDT helps provide an observable and permanent record of family interaction fifteen.  The interpretation of the test exclusively focuses on the process and product by following certain guidelines.  Guidelines for the process dimension include: adherence to instructions (to identify which family member did not follow instructions), sequence (evaluating the sequence of participation), and involvement (evaluating efforts of each member).  Guidelines for the product dimension include the following: use of space (examines how each member utilized available space), tone (examines mood of drawing), and theme/content (evaluates if a unified theme exists). 

                     Three case examples discussed in the article include one case in which twin boys were referred to take the CDT test because of their failure in school and minor behavioral difficulties.  The second case example involved a 15-year old male participant who was referred to take the CDT for stealing and lying.  The third case study pertains to a situation in which a mentally gifted female was referred to take the test because of the fact that she attempted suicide.  The descriptions of the drawings provided information and feelings that the patient was not able to verbalize during the family interview session. 

                     The main concerns regarding the CDT instrument is that further research and development are needed.  The CDT is also fairly outdated (1985). 



I.                   Features of the Collaborative Drawing Technique

A.     A structured nonverbal interactive task administered to a family while a therapist observes

1.      In practice, a family interview session is administered before the CDT

B.     Studies interaction between participants rather than just the individual

1.      Inferential approach that focuses on family as the unit of treatment

C.     Provides a visible record of family interaction

D.     Modified extension of the Kinetic Family Drawing


II.                 Administration of the Collaborative Drawing Technique

A.     Each family member selects one colored crayon and is asked to draw whatever they fancy on a sheet of drawing paper

B.     Therapist times each subject

1.      Each person is given 30 seconds for the first round of drawing

2.      Time limit is progressively reduced after each round

C.     The exercise is interpreted by therapist


III.              Focuses of Interpretation

A.     Process

1.      Adherence to Instructions

2.      Sequence

3.      Involvement

B.     Product

1.      Use of Space

2.      Tone

3.      Theme/Content

IV.              Case Examples

A.     Case Example A

1.      Twin boys referred for CDT administration because of failure in school and minor behavioral difficulties

B.     Case Example B

1.      15-year-old boy referred for CDT because of lying and stealing

C.     Case Example C

1.      Mentally gifted adolescent female referred for CDT because of

attempted suicide


V.                Discussion and Critique

A.     CDT’s Strengths

1.      Gives each member of the family an equal chance to express their

       individuality while still identifying the family as a unit

2.      Test dealt with whole family which is vital for the “state” theory


3.      Nonverbal communication through drawings provides more        information regarding the patient’s feelings or thoughts

4.      Provides meaningful information with less investment of time and effort


B.     CDT’s Weakness

1.      Outdated (1985)

2.      Research and development of the CDT is needed