UNCOVERING THE MENTAL WORLD OF CHILDREN: ATTACHMENT QUALITY, MENTALIZATION, AND CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS
Date of Award
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
GEOFF GOODMAN, PH.D.
DONNA TUMAN, ED.D.,
VALEDA DENT, PH.D.
Although we have long been aware of the widespread benefits of drawing for children (Goodenough, 1926), there is much to learn from a clinical perspective about children’s attachment patterns and mentalization capacities in analyzing their drawings. The present study utilized archival data to uncover trends associated with children’s drawing characteristics, attachment qualities, and mentalization capacities. This study further explored the extent to which mentalization mediates the relationship between attachment quality and Formal Elements (FE) scores as well as the relationship between attachment quality and Content scores of children’s drawings. Two samples of 5–12-year-old children and their caregivers were recruited: one child sample from a public elementary school in White Plains, NY (n = 54), and the other child sample recruited consecutively following admission to a child psychiatric inpatient unit in White Plains, NY (n = 45). Each of the 99 children, including both the inpatient and nonpatient samples, completed three drawings: a drawing of family, primary caregiver, and self, totaling 297 drawings. These drawings were coded using the Formal Elements and Content rating scales (Tuman, 1998, 1999a). Attachment quality and mentalization data for these samples were obtained from previous studies, using the Attachment Story-Completion Task (ASCT) and Children’s Apperception Test (CAT). Attachment quality was found to have a significant positive relationship with the Content scores of family drawings within the inpatient sample. Attachment quality was also found to have a significant positive relationship with mentalization in both the nonpatient and inpatient samples. Mentalization was found to have a significant positive relationship with the Content and FE scores of children’s drawings. This relationship held true for Content scores of caregiver drawings and FE scores of family drawings within the nonpatient sample, and for both the Content and FE scores of family drawings within the inpatient sample. In general, drawings appear to hold promise as tools to access both psychiatrically compromised and nonpatient children’s internal working models and mental states. Gender differences and clinical implications are discussed.
Rosen, Holly, "UNCOVERING THE MENTAL WORLD OF CHILDREN: ATTACHMENT QUALITY, MENTALIZATION, AND CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS" (2023). Selected Full Text Dissertations, 2011-. 50.