Children’s drawings as a projective tool to explore and prevent experiences of mistreatment and/or sexual abuse

Elisabeth Ballús, Ma Carmen Comelles, Ma Teresa Pasto, Paula Benedico

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Resumen

Reality shows us that situations of mistreatment and sexual abuse in childhood are still seldom visible, despite their high prevalence around the world. It is essential to detect and address them, especially among children in situations of dire risk or neglect. The purpose of this study is to determine if graphic emotional indicators are expressed in the drawings of the projective Draw-a-Person (D.A.P) test, made by children in situations of dire risk or neglect. The sample is made up of 34 children, between the ages of 5 and 11 (17 girls and 17 boys), attended by Specialised Child and Adolescent Care Services of the Barcelona Town Hall (Spain). The drawings were coded quantitatively. The results indicated that most of the drawings show a frequency of graphic emotional indicators, as well as graphic indicators common to experiences of mistreatment and/or abuse, which confirm the existence of emotional problems. However, no significant differences based on gender and age were found, except for one indicator of sexual abuse (body omitted/distorted), which is significantly more common in the boys. Results also revealed that the drawings of human figure enable the children to express their experiences of traumatic situations which are difficult to verbalize. These findings have important implications for professionals, as the use of this projective technique can help to early identification and design treatment strategies in situations of mistreatment and/or abuse in children and their families.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo1002864
PublicaciónFrontiers in Psychology
Volumen14
DOI
EstadoPublicada - 2023

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