House-Tree-Person Test

Discover the House-Tree-Person Test, a simple yet insightful tool used in psychology to understand an individual's emotions and personality through drawings.

By Nate Lacson on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the concept of the house-tree-person?

The House-Tree-Person (HTP) concept uses drawings to explore an individual's inner world and measure aspects of general mental functioning. It is based on the premise that when people are asked to draw a house, a tree, and a person, they project aspects of their personality, emotions, and experiences onto the drawings. Psychologist John N. Buck developed the HTP test in the late 1940s as an extension of the Goodenough scale of 1926, one of the well-established intelligence tests that assessed children's intelligence through their drawings of a person.

The house in the HTP test represents the individual's home life and family dynamics. It can provide insights into the person's feelings about security, stability, and relationships. The tree is often seen as a symbol of the self, reflecting aspects of the individual's personality, growth, and how they relate to their environment. The person drawing directly represents the self-image, revealing self-perception, social interactions, and sometimes hidden emotions.

The HTP test is important in psychology because it is a non-intrusive and creative diagnostic tool for understanding an individual's psychological state. It is particularly useful in assessing children and individuals who may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. The test can uncover underlying issues, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma, and can be used as a starting point for therapeutic discussions.

Printable House-Tree-Person Test

Download this House-Tree-Person Test to help explore an client's inner world.

What is a House-Tree-Person Test?

The House-Tree-Person Test, also known as the House-Person-Tree Test, is one of the projective tests in psychology that involves asking an individual to draw a house, a tree, and a person. HTP drawings are then analyzed to gain insights into the person's emotional state, personality, and underlying psychological issues. The HTP test is commonly used with children, as it provides a non-threatening and engaging way to explore their inner world, but it can also be applied to adults.

One variation of the HTP test is the Kinetic House-Tree-Person test (KHTP), which adds a dynamic component by asking the individual to draw the person in action, providing further insights into their psychological functioning. However, this is a different test.

How are the results scored and interpreted?

The scoring of the HTP test primarily involves a qualitative analysis of the drawings, similar to other qualitative tests used in psychological assessments. This is a subjective analysis where the content, detail, and quality to understand the individual's emotional and psychological state. Key aspects of the drawings, such as the size, placement, and completeness of the house, tree, and person, are evaluated to gain insights into the individual's inner world.

In the house drawing, the roof represents the intellectual side and spiritual life, the walls relate to character strength, and doors and windows indicate social integration. In the tree drawing, the branches show social connectedness, the trunk represents inner strength, and the tree crown stands for ideas and self-concept. The person drawing's head symbolizes intelligence and imagination, the eyes indicate perception, and the hands give information about affectivity and aggressiveness.

Other important aspects include the dimensions of objects, which suggest self-esteem and confidence. For example, a very small house might suggest low self-esteem. Other aspects include the level of detail (indicating the need for social presentation or signs of depression) and the location of objects on the page, which relates to dreams, imagination, and the physical world. Strokes and lines reflect determination, insecurity, or confidence. The test taker's attitude and gestures during the drawing process are also considered.

Legs and feet in the person drawing represent grounding and power, while their size can indicate a need for security. The neck separates cognition from drives and needs, with its length indicating the desired separation. The mouth reflects how needs are met, with its size and shape indicating neediness, sexualized needs, or denial of needs. Rarely drawn genitalia or breasts suggest sexual concerns, while certain figures like clowns or robots can indicate hiding, loss of emotions, or regressive themes.

Overall, the interpretation of house tree person drawings is largely based on the clinician's experience and understanding of the individual's context and background. Mental health professionals should use Buck's House-Tree-Person Technique: Manual for best results.

House-Tree-Person Test example (sample)

At Carepatron, we understand the importance of having practical tools to support psychological assessments. That's why we've created a sample House-Tree-Person Test template complete with fictitious patient information and answers, as well as healthcare professional information. This template serves as a reference for healthcare professionals to use in their practice or to provide to their patients.

Download our free House-Tree-Person Test example here:

House-Tree-Person Test example (sample)

When is this usually conducted?

The HTP test is typically conducted in various settings and situations to gain insights into an individual's psychological state. Here are some common scenarios when the HTP test is used:

  • Clinical assessment: The HTP test is often used in clinical settings to help diagnose brain damage and/or mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. It can provide valuable information about a person's emotional state and coping mechanisms and is particularly useful in assessing schizophrenic patients.
  • Therapeutic evaluation: Therapists may use the HTP test to evaluate a client's progress in therapy. It can help identify changes in perception, self-concept, and emotional well-being over time.
  • Educational assessment: In educational settings, the HTP test can be used to assess a child's developmental level, cognitive abilities, and emotional issues that may impact learning.
  • Research studies: Researchers may use the HTP test in studies exploring the relationship between creativity, personality traits, and psychological well-being.
  • Crisis intervention: The HTP test can be a valuable tool in crisis situations, such as after a traumatic event, to assess an individual's emotional response and need for further support.

The HTP test is a flexible tool that can be adapted to different contexts and populations, making it a valuable asset in various psychological assessments.

Benefits of taking/conducting this test

The House-Tree-Person (HTP) test offers several benefits for both individuals taking the test and professionals conducting it. Here are some of the key advantages:

Provides insight into emotional state

The HTP test allows individuals to express their emotions and inner experiences through drawings, which can be particularly useful for those who may find it difficult to articulate their feelings verbally. This can lead to a deeper understanding of their emotional state.

Facilitates therapeutic communication

For therapists and psychologists, the HTP test can serve as a starting point for discussions with clients. The drawings can help break down communication barriers and provide a non-threatening way to explore sensitive topics.

Assists in diagnosis and treatment planning

The test can provide valuable information that contributes to the diagnostic process. By analyzing the drawings, professionals can gain insights into potential psychological issues and tailor treatment plans to address specific needs.

Encourages self-reflection

The process of creating the drawings can be a reflective exercise for individuals, helping them to explore and understand their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness can be a crucial step in personal growth and healing.

What is the House-Tree-Person test used for?
What is the House-Tree-Person test used for?

Commonly asked questions

What is the House-Tree-Person test used for?

The House-Tree-Person test is used to assess an individual's emotional state, personality, and underlying psychological issues through their drawings of a house, a tree, and a person.

What questions are asked in the House-Tree-Person test?

In the House-Tree-Person test, individuals are asked to draw a house, a tree, and a person, and they may be asked to describe their drawings or tell a story about them.

What age is the House-Tree-Person test for?

The House-Tree-Person test is commonly used with children but can be applied to individuals of any age to assess their psychological state.

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