The Charles Koch tree test is an interesting projective test to analyze our personality and our deep emotional universe. Because it is so easy to use, it is often used when working with children, but it is also a widely used self-analysis tool that helps us get to know ourselves a little better.
The tree test was developed in the 1950s by the psychologist Charles Koch. That was a while ago, but the test is still widely used. If we now say that this test consists solely of asking a child or adult to draw a tree with its roots, trunk and crown, it may well be that many of our readers are quick to confirm the reliability and validity of this instrument doubt.
The advantages of the tree test are that it can be used on a wide variety of people and requires little time and material. It provides interesting information on emotional aspects that can later be compared with the results of other tests.
Before reaching this conclusion, there is one detail that should not be overlooked. Projective tests are a very useful clinical tool. Thanks to them, we can obtain diverse data on how our patients perceive, understand and handle their world. Instruments such as the Rorschach test, the test of the man in the rain or the tree test are complementary tests that we can use in addition to many other diagnostic tools.
But it is also interesting that Doctor Koch chose this figure because of the symbolism inherent in trees. Every culture, every ethnic group sees something mythological and totemic in a tree that takes root in every human being regardless of age. Trying to represent them and draw them is almost like carrying out the lights and shadows that we carry within.
What does the Charles Koch tree test evaluate?
The Charles Koch tree test, as well as any other test in which we draw something, choose colors and conjure up a figure on a white sheet of paper, gives us information about our personality. In addition, our drawing can also be used to interpret our emotional state.
- The stability of a person, their vulnerability and sensitivity are measured and one can find out whether there are internal conflicts or not.
- Certain psychological currents, e.g. B. Psychoanalysis say that this test would also provide information about the structure of the psyche and the content of our subconscious.
- A recent study shows that the tree test has proven effective in diagnosing cognitive disorders and dementia.
How is it used?
The tree test can be used on patients from the age of five or six. The only requirement for this is that the test person has basic motor skills to be able to draw.
- The test person is given a few blank sheets of paper, colored pencils and an eraser.
- He is asked to draw a tree with its roots, trunk, branches, etc.
- If the patients are still of preschool age, we ask them to make two drawings. The first is to draw in a free style. We say to them, “Draw any tree you like.” Later we tell them to start a new drawing and to make the second tree different from the first. In this way we get two drawings that we can use to better carry out the assessment.
- The time required is between ten minutes and half an hour, depending on how long the test person needs.
How is the tree test analyzed?
Usually we focus on different elements:
- If no soil or roots are drawn, this can indicate a lack of emotional and personal stability and uprooting.
- Disproportionate roots made up of lightning bolts can also be an indicator of trouble, emotional reluctance, and anger.
The tree trunk
- A very thin tree trunk suggests very sensitive and sensitive people or, on the other hand, can indicate existing tension or high expectations that disturb the patient’s calm and well-being.
- A broad tribe stands for impulsive people with increased emotions and low self-control.
- A trunk of normal proportions stands for inner balance.
- A trunk consisting of straight lines suggests correct people with good abstraction skills.
- A tree trunk made up of wavy lines indicates sociable, nice people who do not have social problems.
- Stems with expansions, cavities, lines or protruding points indicate fears, trauma, held back and repressed emotions.
The treetop reflects the interaction with the physical and external environment. While the roots and the trunk relate more to the inner and emotional world, the branches represent a different psychological level.
- Small treetop: Children up to nine years of age always draw small treetops, which is normal. This can indicate immaturity and is related to the child’s world.
- Large treetop: It can tell us that the subject who made the drawing has a lot of imagination and enthusiasm or is even slightly narcissistic.
- Tree without a crown: This point can indicate that the test person who made the drawing has developmental deficits or possibly cognitive problems.
- Spiral treetop: This can be a communicative, sophisticated person with good taste.
- Tree top consisting of lines or lightning bolts: It stands for a stubborn, impulsive, in a certain way angry or defiant person.
- Tree top with leaves: it represents a lively person.
- Tree top with fruits: This stands for a person with goals and desires that he wants to fulfill.
In addition to the values described here, there are many more, such as drawing attributes such as houses, birds or hills. That is, details that were not required by the psychologist, but which can also provide relevant information. In addition, it also helps to take into account the colors chosen for the tree and even the size of the figures.
Furthermore, elements such as shortened branches, holes or injuries in the trunk, missing roots or dark colors can be instructive. All of this suggests possible trauma. However, as we mentioned earlier, the tree test is not used as the sole diagnostic test. We are talking about an interesting tool that can help us together with others to collect information in order to make a more precise diagnosis.