House, Tree, Person (HTP): A Personality Test

November 20, 2016

Through the HTP personality test, you can analyze certain personality features, inner conflicts, and your perception of yourself, or in other words, characteristics that you believe belong to you.

This personality test can seem like a children’s game, but it’s also useful for adults. It is used in clinics, psychological counseling offices, and educational psychology departments.

What is the HTP personality test?

To take the test, participants are asked to draw a house (H), a tree (T), and a person (P) on a blank piece of paper. The test attempts to identify your most common and hidden inner conflicts.

The analyzer can predict certain personality traits of the individual based on his or her drawings of these simple, everyday objects. You probably wouldn’t realize it, but when you draw a house, a tree, and a person, you shed light on things you keep locked away in your unconscious for various reasons.

house tree person

You don’t have to be Picasso to pass this test, you just have to find the clues that the drawing offers. What can the drawing communicate? In broad terms, it can express your true self in relation to a family environment (like a house or a tree) and the people close to you.

The two phases of the HTP test

The study goes much deeper than drawing a house with a tree and a person next to it, so it should not be taken lightly. In the first part (the nonverbal or creative part), the subject is asked to draw these three things. The expert will probably suggest that they draw in the most natural way possible and forget as much about the context as possible, as well as the subsequent analysis of the drawing.

While the person is drawing, the analyst uses this time to pay attention to their attitudes, words, and body language. They could be displaying frustration, anger, happiness, etc. Once the drawing task is finished, it’s time for the second phase, in which they have to tell a story using the three verbal tenses (past, present, and future).

Another common option during the HTP test is to respond to a series of questions, already planned out in advance by the specialist. This serves to motivate people who have a more difficult time expressing themselves or children who can’t really elaborate a story very well.

How, when, and why to take the HTP test

The test is designed for people 8 years and older. This means that basically anybody can be analyzed by drawing a house, a tree, and a person. It might seem a little strange to adults to consult with a specialist and be asked to draw a picture in the middle of the session, but the results are quite interesting.

To take full advantage of the test, it’s best to be in a calm setting with no distractions, where the patient can feel comfortable. An office would be ideal for privacy reasons. The location should also have all the necessary materials available (paper, pencils, an eraser, etc.).

child taking htp test

Erasing is allowed, but even this is analyzed: deciding to erase the whole drawing after finishing is not the same as erasing a simple line in order to improve it.

The HTP test lasts between half an hour and an hour, depending on how long it takes the patient to draw and tell the story. Of course, it also depends on their attitude and if the analyst decides to ask questions at the end.

What’s the point of the HTP test?

The logic is simple. The test is based on the idea that drawings can express many feelings, whether they’re past or present, as well as future desires. Every image means something different: the house represents one’s family situation, the tree represent’s one’s deepest self-concept, and the person is a type of self-portrait or self-image that includes one’s conscience and defense mechanisms.

The location of each object on the page is also analyzed. For example, if the person draws really close to the top of the page, it means the drawing is related to dreams and imagination, while drawing closer to the bottom is related to the physical world. Drawing on the right is linked to the future, center is linked to the present, and left is linked to the past.

They also evaluate the size of each element, the pressure of each stroke (which can signify strength or weakness), and clarity of the image. It’s also interesting to know that each part of the house, tree, and person also have meaning.

We won’t tell you what every little thing means so that you can’t cheat when you take the test, but to give a little outline of a possible interpretation: the roof of the house represents the spiritual and the intellectual, the trunk of the tree represents the things that sustain one’s life, and the person’s hands represent emotions.

Like in all projective tests, the quality of the information you obtain depends on the attitude you have towards drawing the picture and telling the story, and it also depends on the ability of the analyst to differentiate between the relevant and irrelevant pieces of the drawing.

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