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JIAAP July 2016
Drawing Techniques in Assessment: A Summary Review of 60 Survey-based Studies of Training and Professional Settings
Chris Piotrowski, University of West Florida, Florida, USA
Historically, drawing tests have been the target of extensive criticism based on incisive reviews of the literature (e.g., Lilienfeld et al., 2000; Motta et al., 1993; Smith & Dumont, 1995; Ziskin, 1995).The intent of the current study is to determine whether this collective movement has had a deleterious impact on the popularity of drawing methods in graduate training programs and professional usage worldwide. To that end, the author identified survey-based research with regard to drawing techniques that reported on assessment training and test usage patterns from 1989-2015. The 60 identified survey-based or records-based studies served as the data pool(USA=47; Overseas nations=13). The analysis showed that 38 of the 60 studies (63%) reported that drawing tests were viewed positively in the USA and in some countries outside of Europe. However, a bifurcation trend between academic training and professional practice settings was noted. Drawing techniques were ranked ‘moderately’ high (amongst the top 15 tests) in terms of usage, in 23 of the 49 studies of practice settings. However, only one of the 11 studies of academic settings showed a high degree of training emphasis with drawing techniques. In professional settings, drawing methods appear to be somewhat popular in clinical psychology and school psychology practice, less so in forensic and counseling psychology, and largely ignored in neuropsychological assessment. On a cautionary note, this review observed a slight diminutive trend on the use of drawing tests in practice settings over the last five years. However, a bibliometric analysis of the extant literature indicated that research attention on specific drawing instruments remains undiminished over the past decade. Overall, these findings provide data-based evidence that drawing techniques have been a major assessment approach to a sizeable minority of practitioners who conduct psychological testing. At the same time, academic and internship programs have largely shunned drawing instruments in coursework and training. This perplexing discrepancy in training versus practice should provide a lively, scholarly forum for the assessment field. Finally, there is a need for additional research regarding graduate-level assessment training in countries outside the USA (Piotrowski, 2015b), due to the dearth of studies of academic settings overseas. Keywords: Drawing Techniques, Human Figure Drawings, Projective Drawings, Usage, Training.