The pioneer of using the Draw-A-Person (DAP) Test in a psychodynamic approach is Karen Machover. Since she first introduced the use of this projective assessment tool, DAP has been widely accepted in the area of psychological testing. In fact, it was ranked as the eighth most used tool for clinical diagnosis in the United States. This popularity and appeal may be attributed to its being interesting and highly imaginative. But, in spite of its creativity, it remains to be objective and strongly founded.
In administering the DAP, the examiner always starts by providing the examinee with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil with eraser. The examiner, then, instructs the examinee to “draw a person”, thus, the name of the test. After drawing one person, the examinee then proceeds to draw another person of the opposite sex with the first one. The exam ends with the examinee narrating a story that features the figures he or she has drawn as characters.
DAP is interpreted according to psychodynamic theories. The figure of the same sex with that of the examinee is seen to be reflective of impulses the examinee finds acceptable while the unacceptable instincts are portrayed by the figure of the opposite sex. The sizes of the figures are also reported to reveal the gender preferences of the examinee.
Disproportionate enlargement of head is a sign of preoccupation over headaches or other brain diseases. If facial features are deleted, the examinee may be avoiding of interpersonal relationships that are possible to cause massive conflicts. A heavy line slash in the mouth is a reflection of aggression while a change in the features of the chin indicates compensation for weakness. If the figure drawn is male, has large eyes but has eyelashes, the examinee may have homosexual tendencies.
Nowadays, the DAP is popularly used to screen and diagnose children that may have symptoms of behavioural disorders and mental difficulties.