It is J’s first visit to me. He is 8 years old and so adorable. He was referred to me by the mom of a former child/client. His mom sat in an adjacent room providing a sense of both privacy (mom is in the other room) and security (a child can leave my drawing table and go check in with mom at any time during our session.)
I like to start work with new clients, children especially, by doing a couple of assessments. I use the HTP (House Tree Person), the PPAT (Person Picking an Apple from a Tree) and the Bird’s nest. These assessments are not a diagnosis but they are often informative. Especially when you’ve seen this same set of drawings over many years. J. drew the requested drawings and looked like a regular kid with no trauma, no big red flags. The only thing that stood out is the way he contains all the elements of his drawings within tightly drawn boxes. This could be about boundaries, about isolation or about protection. My gut says protection. I will look for these themes in future sessions.
If there’s time, I will ask a first time client to color a mandala. A mandala is simply a drawing in a circle format. Carl Jung says that a mandala is a meaningful self-portrait and the work of both Joan Kellogg and Suzanne Fincher informs me as I “read” mandalas from all walks of life. I include J.’s mandala here. It is the best drawing of a divorce I have ever seen.
Tick Farm oil pastel on paper by “J” age 8
Mind you he did not talk about divorce or even name the three circles that he drew within a divided circle. But the separation is very clear and both parent pods are intact. The separation even kind of looks stable or matter of fact. The J pod is not stuck between them. He is in the middle evenly and equally but still separate. It doesn’t look like any struggle or drama or tug of war about taking sides or having to choose. In fact the J. pod seems to have found a balance that works. It even looks like the strong feelings are outside of the family circle. Like he is insulated from them.
The title “Tick Farm” is worth another look. Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to hosts and suck their blood. They feed off others. This can be on an energetic level, a time/attention level, on a financial level or even a food level.
I have recommended that J. take part in my Divorce for Kids curriculum. This will give him a chance to explore and integrate all the implications of divorce in his family.
Copyright2012 Jas Milam