Bridge Drawing

Bridge Drawing
Reference: Hays, R. & Lyons, S. (1981) The Bridge Drawing: A projective technique for assessment in art therapy. Arts in Psychotherapy. (8) pp. 207-217.
Purpose: Bridge Drawing is a projective assessment that may provide insight into a person’s functioning, perception of his/her environment as a stable place, and perception of movement or stagnancy.
Ages: No age limit specified.
Materials: 8 ½ X 11 blank, white paper; drawing utensils of choice
Administration: The evaluator hands the client a piece of paper and requests that he or she “Draw a bridge going from some place to some place.”
Ask artist to draw an arrow representing directionality.
Ask the artist to identify his/her location on the bridge with a dot.
Ask the artist to write or speak a few short sentences about the bridge.
Interpretation: Examiner may look for the following indicators.
Directionality: The drawn arrow typically represents left to right travel.
Placement of self: The location of the person may be indicative of how that person is approaching problems/goals.
Places drawn on either side: These places may include named land masses, symbolic connections, and un-named land masses.
Solidness: It is common to see the right side (which may represent the future) depicted as less grounded than the left side (which may represent the past).
Emphasis by elaboration: Certain areas may be given greater emphasis than other areas. Which areas are emphasized?
Construction of bridge: The construction of the bridge may imply the stability and security of the bridge. For instance, what materials were used to build the bridge?
Type of bridge: Most people draw familiar bridges. In some cases, arch bridges represent femininity whereas suspension bridges represent masculinity.
Matter under bridge: What is under the bridge? It is typical to see water. If water is present, is it calm or turbulent?
Vantage point of viewer: If the bridge is seen from above, the person may wish for control. If the bridge is seen from a worm’s-eye view, feelings of insecurity/inferiority may be present.
Axis of paper: A horizontal page is more typical. A vertical page may indicate passivity.
Consistency of Gestalt: Are there indications that parts of the picture don’t fit? Incongruence is noted.
Written Associations: The evaluator reads or listens to the picture’s verbal caption, and asks questions where deemed appropriate.
Strengths: The Bridge drawing does not necessarily take much time to create, and in most cases, can be completed in one session. It is likely to stimulate a conversation about movement or stagnancy, and goals.
Limitations: The Bridge drawing has not been proven to be significantly valid or reliable. It only produces one picture, which does not provide a lot of information to make an accurate evaluation of how the person is functioning.
Reflection: I like the Bridge drawing even though it is not a precise and proven measurement tool. I perceive the Bridge drawing more as an intervention than as an assessment. The interpretation considerations would aid in observation and in processing.


blogger said...

Thanks for posting this! I have a blog going as well- several actually. The one that I'm currently working on is:

I'll be going to finland as an assistant to a Fulbright recipient/ art therapist. The goal is to teach a new method of art therapy. I'd love any input!! Thanks again for the blog posting. I'll be using this directive in my next group!

Sara Crafton said...

So are you in Finland now? What is this new method of art therapy that you are proposing/teaching?? Sounds very interesting, and I'd love to learn more!

Anonymous said...

I am an art therapist and often use the draw a bridge idea. But now I also add two other drawings. draw a landscape on the side of the bridge you have come from. Draw a landscape of the side you are going to. This shows many amazing concepts around safety, trust and hope for the future. It also provides understanding in some instances of choice in life. I find it a great tool to use with children and adults and also an option over time to take it further as a project on bridges as a way of reading stories about bridges to assist with children discovering their own inner strength, reliance and trust in them selves.

Peach said...

Hello all, I am a first year expressive arts therapy student at CIIS in San Francisco. These assessment breakdowns are very helpful, as are the comments that describe how different people use the experientials in their work with clients. Thank you for creating this blog.

Kristen Pierce said...

I'm an art therapy graduate student working my first years internship at a local addiction recovery house. I applied your directives "spill journal" and "beautiful, ugly, beautiful" with my group of 20 clients and they were each a huge success. Thank you so much for your site and ideas...very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting comments. I have been working as an art therapist for the past 10 years.I have noticed that the symbol of the bridge crops up very often in people's drawings.I often use the Draw a bridge idea and I also ask them to draw people who are on the side they have come from and people on the side they are going to.

Angel said...

people and the way they have been represented in the drawings give the therapist a clue on the relationship the beneficiary has with the persons represented in the drawings.