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Definition: The house-tree-person test (HTP) is a projective personality test, a type of exam in which the test taker responds to or provides ambiguous, abstract, or unstructured stimuli (often in the form of pictures or drawings). In the HTP, the test taker is asked to draw houses, trees, and persons, and these drawings provide a measure of selfperceptions and attitudes.

House-Tree-Person Test : Another projective personality assessment method is the HouseTree-Person (HTP) Test. It uses freehand drawings of house, tree, and person, quite similar to Draw-A-Person (DAP) Test. Though it was originally devised as a method for measuring intelligence, it is now widely used to measure personality.

The HTP was developed in 1948, and updated in 1969. Tests requiring human figure drawings were already being utilized as projective personality tests. Buck believed that drawings of houses and trees could also provide relevant information about the functioning of an individual's personality.

The examiner will be requested to draw sketches of a house, tree and person in separate pencil and crayon drawings. .

The post-drawing interrogation is composed of 60 questions aimed at gathering the examinees feelings about the figures he or she has drawn. Three assumptions are also considered as the basic interpreting guidelines for HTP. The house figure reflects the testtakers home life and relationships with the family. The tree figure reveals the experiences of the test-taker.

The person figure describes the test-takers relationships with other people, aside from his or her family. In general, the test reveals areas of conflict or concerns that need immediate concerns. A child who draws himself looking out from his or her house signifies feelings of being trapped, abused.

Purpose: The primary purpose of the HTP is to measure aspects of a person's personality through interpretation of drawings and responses to questions. It is also sometimes used as part of an assessment of brain damage or overall neurological functioning.

Precautions: Because it is mostly subjective, scoring and interpreting the HTP is difficult. Anyone administering the HTP must be properly trained. The test publishers provide a detailed 350-page administration and scoring manual.

Description : The HTP can be given to anyone over the age of three. Because it requires test takers to draw pictures, it is often used with children and adolescents. It is also often used with individuals suspected of having brain damage or other neurological impairment.

The test takes an average of 150 minutes to complete; it may take less time with normally functioning adults and much more time with neurologically impaired individuals.

First Phase:
During the first phase of the test, test takers are asked to use a crayon to draw pictures, respectively, of a house, a tree, and a person. Each drawing is done on a separate piece of paper and the test taker is asked to draw as accurately as possible.

Upon completion of the drawings, test takers are asked questions about the drawings. There are a total of 60 questions that examiners can ask. Examiners can also create their own questions or ask unscripted follow-up questions.

For example, with reference to the house, the test creator wrote questions such as, "Is it a happy house?" and "What is the house made of?" Regarding the tree, questions include, "About how old is that tree?" and "Is the tree alive?" Concerning the person, questions include, "Is that person happy?" and "How does that person feel?"

Second Phase:
During the second phase of the test, test takers are asked to draw the same pictures with a pencil. The questions that follow this phase are similar to the ones in the first phase. Some examiners give only one of the two phases, choosing either a crayon, a pencil, or some other writing instrument.

First variation: Test administration involves asking the individual to draw two separate persons, one of each sex. Second variation: variation is to have test takers put all the drawings on one page.

The primary use of the HTP, however, is related to the qualitative scoring scheme in which the test administrator subjectively analyzes the drawings and the responses to questions in a way that assesses the test taker's personality.

For example, a very small house might indicate rejection of one's home life. A tree that has a slender trunk but has large expansive branches might indicate a need for satisfaction. A drawing of a person that has a lot of detail in the face might indicate a need to present oneself in an acceptable social light.

The Questions . . .Ask questions after each picture is drawn: Person : Who is this person, how old are they, what's their favorite thing to do, what's something they do not like, has anyone tried to hurt them, who looks out for them?

House : Who lives here, are they happy, what goes on inside, what's it like at night, do people visit here, what else do the people in the house want to add to the drawing?

Tree : What kind of tree is this, how old is it, what season is it, has anyone tried to cut it down, what else grows nearby, who waters the tree, trees need sunshine to live so does it get enough sunshine?

House interpretations are closely based on research and on the symbolic meaning of the aspects of the house. They should hopefully be nurturing places with normal levels of detail and normal size. Too little and the client may reject family life; too big and they may be overwhelmed by it.

Lines and walls represent boundaries and strengths of the ego, thus weak lines in the structure of the house are weaknesses in the ego, while strong lines are problems with anxiety.

The roof symbolizes the fantasy life, and extra attention to it can indicate extra attention to fantasy and ideation, while incomplete, tiny, or burning roofs can indicate avoidance of overpowering and frightening fantasies (think about fears of ghosts).

Windows, doors are relate to openness, willingness to interact with others, and ideas about the environment. Thus, shades, shutters, bars, curtains indicate some unwillingness to reveal much about yourself

Tree interpretations: The trunk is seen to represent the ego ,sense of self, and the intactness of the personality. Thus heavy lines or shadings to represent bark indicate anxiety about one's self, small trunks are limited ego strength, large trunks are more strength...

Limbs are the efforts our ego makes to "reach out" to the world and support "things that feed us" what we need. Thus, limbs detached are difficulties reaching out, or efforts to reach out that we can't control.

Small branches are limited skills to reach out, while big branches may be too much reaching out to meet needs. Club shaped branches or very pointy ones represent aggressiveness.

Leaves are signs that efforts to reach out are successful, thus no leaves could mean feeling barren.

Roots are what "ground" the tree and people, and typically relate to reality testing and orientation. No roots can mean insecurity and no feeling of being grounded, overemphasized roots can be excessive concern with reality testing, while dead roots can mean feelings of disconnection from reality, emptiness, and despair.

Other detail: Christmas trees after the season is over can mean regressive fantasies (thinking about holidays and family and good times to make yourself feel better).

Person interpretations: Here, the idea is that the person of the same sex is like you, and the person of the opposite sex is what you may not admit is like you..

Some interpret drawing the opposite-sex first as a sign of gender confusion, which has not been well-supported.

Arms are the way we reach out to the environment, and hands the way we effect it. Open arms indicate willingness to engage, closed arms are defensiveness, disconnected arms are powerlessness... pointed fingers or balled fists can be aggression, hidden or gloved hands can be anxiety or antisocial tendencies...

Legs and feet are also like the roots of trees, and represent grounding and power too. If cut off at the bottom of the paper (think of cutting someone off at the knees) it can mean loss of autonomy, small feet (inadequate base) can indicate a need for security, while big feet can indicate the same.

The neck separates the head (cognition) from the body (drives and needs), so no neck is no separation, long neck is desire for more separation of the two, etc...

Mouth is how we get needs met (think Freud and oral stuff), so big or open mouth is neediness, closed tight mouth is denial of needs or some passive-aggression, and frowns, sneers, and smiles mean with they do in real life.

There is limited support for oral-dependency themes, and more for slash mouths and teeth to be consistent with verbal aggression.

Drawing clowns (hiding face and person), robots (loss of emotions in a psychotic way), cowboys (masculinized needs), snowmen (rounded bodies, regressive themes), stick man (childish or regressive themes) etc... can mean what is noted in parenthesis above.

Excessive details are consistent with some obsessiveness when dealing with anxiety, while a marked lack of detail can indicate withdrawal, low energy, or boredom.