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CHILD’S PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION WITH THE RORSCHACH TEST THEORY AND PRACTICE

Autor: Speranța Popescu Camelia Stanciu Andrei Cotruș
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This study aims a brief description of the factors which define the interpretation of the Rorschach test, in the situation of the child’s psychological examination, without implying a specific clinical interpretation of a defined pathology, such as the neurotic, or the psychotic Child’s imaginary is very rich and varied, even if great suffering mental structures are common to all, but the context of life is very different, like emotional maturity, often located in gap compared with cognitive development.

Child’s Rorschach clarify through knowledge the adult’s Rorschach, the clasification being made mutual. Clinical illustrations aims to highlight the protocols’s certain patterns of thinking or typical infant reactions.

The child face to face with Rorschach

In front of the board, the child creates, describes, or spots the images, looking for similarities. He transforms these boards according to he’s wishes, fantasies and transfiguring anguishes or the trauma experiments.  He affirms he’s omnipotence, talking about he’s dependence. The more the chronological age is smaller, the more he feels freer in he’s expressions and furthermore the magical thinking, as well as the syncretism are in the action.

The child expresses in the framing of he’s productions a rich fantastical world after the game model, of the fable or he’s perception are destructureaza   under the pressure or the anguish created by the ambivalent of the boards? Can we distinguish themes and actions models which define the evolution of those who present deviance?

We can certainly affirm that every infantile production, which expresses in a standardized situation like the one of applying a test, it subscribes between real and imaginary and the psychical activity of the child, either intellectual or emotional responds to the 2 major requirements: on the one hand adaptation to the external reality and on the other hand and expressing the inner world. It may be possible that the situations that the tests propose on the progression of the psychological exam of the child represent privileged situations, in the meaning that it combines two aspects: the exigent, to adapt to a objective reality, the examination and expressing the imaginary in a creative plan, however phantasmatic progression.

In front of the Rorschach test, the child firstly perceives the call to play, freedom to express, in the conditions of a minimal constraint: „what do you think that you see here? Do you like watching?” if this overgrown liberty does not provoke a retreating reaction, the child will tell with joy borrowing in he’s elaborated scenes imagines from stories, play and dreams.

The child’s resonance from the test is influenced by the way he perceives the examination situation, by the relationship that he establishes with the adult and he’s age which assumes access more or less autonomous.

 

Material of the test: explicate perceptive aspects and symbolic aspects

The material of the test is constituted from 10 boards, all concept on a symmetrical vertical axe, from which 5 on blurred grey and 5 paste led collard. The perceptive particularities are disquiets from the perspective of the different dimensions, unite or dispersed character of the images, of the contoured or vague aspect, clear or gloomy. All of these characteristics offer speculations on the symbolic value of the presented stimulus.

We resume in a somehow restricted form the latent content of the boards, strongly related to the symbolic significance with which it accords.

First board: the first board can represent the capacity of the subject to adapt to this new situation in which the test represents. The former global responses off course indicate a good capacity to adapt: ”a butterfly”, “a dancer”…. can be the answer which dresses a defensive note with accents a regression decomposing the image in fragments: “a butterfly wing”. Other answers can trade a persecution experience, with notes of danger coming from entourage: “a dark and angry butterfly, it has horns, it has eyes “. The board has valences referring to the corporal image related to the base identity of the subject. The grey-dark aspect of the board can cause reactions of sadness, depression, managed in different ways by subjects.

D. Anzieu (1965) insists on the symbolism that this board represents about the pre-genital relation quality with the maternal character, some scenes highlighting a dangerous relationship: “the head of a witch”.

Second board: the second board allows the reactivation of the represented relationship. This could be represented with more or less dynamic contents along the presence or absence of kinaesthesia. When this kinaesthesia is evoked can highlight the quality of the relationship that the subject has with the object. The presence of the colour red is imposed to the subject, asking he’s capacity to manage compulsions. Reactive compulsion aspects can be by sexual or aggressive order: “an ugly man’s daughter, the eyes being red, mouth”. The board has a bisexual character, the upper grey parts referees to the masculine phallic aspect and the red parts, easily blurred – to the female dimension.

Third board: self representation from the other one is favoured from the perception of 2 human characters. This board is considered to test the representation of the subject referring to he’s body integral as a capacity to identify with the human species. In an equal way, the sexual identity is tested, as the capacity of the subject to put itself in a relation with the object. The pulsating aspect of the requirement is representing with the presence of the colours black-red-white. Some subjects having a fragile identity are shocked by the red colour, building answers that trade the disintegration anguish: “a skull”.

Fourth board: the fourth board imposes with a double aspect: gloomy and massive. The phallic force projections are required, terms of the subject with authorial figures (pattern figure). The placement of the subject is important in the domination-submission dynamic, this one dressing multiple variations: “a dragon, it has legs”, “a kind of giant that leans against a three”. This board is considered to be the board of authority, some authors naming it the superego board.

Fifths board: considered to be the board of reality adaptation, it virtually forces in considering the objective reality of the engram (figure) which facilitates creating a puerile answer: “butterfly”, ”bird” .A well structured identity will be reflected via puerile answers. The fragile organisation of the ego will be betrayed via answers that contain somatic or psychic references relating to a suffer: “a butterfly with broken wings”, ”a tired bird, with its wings bent down”.

Sixth board: essential in this board is the sexual symbol, relating to the capacity to represent an upright body or object. The position is possible to be considered at the activity-passivity level: “a cat’s head folded with a bear fur”;

Seventh board: the board offers the subject the possibility to construct answers which have for content the relation representations, especially human, these owns highlighting the identity evolution. The open character of the board makes reference to femininity / masculinity. Every subject, boy or girl, are building their identity in a relation with their maternal figure. In a general manner, the feminine perception of the person evokes a good sexual difference. The imprecision of the answers regarding to the sexual membership suggests, of course regarding to the age factor, the difficulty in assuming this identity, and the archaic answers go to the problematic of the existence of a fault in the process of separating-individualising: “2 tornadoes, the dust is rising up…”, “something out of ice…”

Eighth board: first bilateral colored board, which allows the reactivation of relational representations of the social environment. The subject highlights its ability to adapt to the outside world, to integrate and channel affects. Organizing answers characterized the type of anxiety and defense mechanisms mobilized, if some answers are not trivial: “that sure is the skeleton of a man”, “two monsters, hamsters, which were descended from a flower.”

Ninth board: is also a color board characterized by a well-marked central vacuum, these features expressly requesting early relations with the archaic maternal imago. The representation of maternal imago, in the pre-genital period occupies here the forefront of the latent content. Shocks, denials are common because of the regressive emotions requested of the latent content of the plan; in the psychopathological plan the responses are sensitive in their functioning psychotic or limit. In a mature organization, the subject will integrate archaic the anxiety resorting to rational processes of integration of emotions: “two women or a woman sees in the mirror.”

Tenth board: characterized by a look that exhibit a dispersion of colors and shape, can cause very different reactions from the subject. Global responses to this board are a sign of a rich imagination and emotional maturity. Detailed responses without losing quality shape are the symbol of equilibrium on reporting the subject to the reality of internal reporting as well as the external: “two seahorses, two spiders”. Other responses on the contrary, their content reactivates through their content the separation anxiety, loss of identity, through disintegration. The final position of the test is called the “separation board”, marking the escape from a relationship transfer that has bound in this projective situation created by applying Rorschach test.

The boards cause reactions at different levels that do not necessarily require an unequivocal symbolism: some refer to archaic pictures and essentially a dual relationship, to issues of identity, another project a conflicted oedipal or pre-oedipal feeling, without neglecting adaptive theme, that remains significant.

 

Methodological issues

To discuss issues concerning the psychological dimensions, as diagnostic implications, we need to mention some methodological issues concerning: the conditions of application, rating and analysis of responses. These methodological data refer particularly in children between the ages of 8 to 10 years.

Application conditions

Rorschach test is not the only child’s recommended test, in the psychological examination. We always will have a set of examination situations, that require concrete answers and projective situations, more free within the game, the design or the thematic tests. The conditions for the application of psychological tests will be less standardized than in adults, providing to the child as much freedom of expression. Examiner position will be more engaged, using encouragement, participation in the game, thereby stimulating the participation and production in the scenarios that he elaborates.

Answers: quotation and analysis

a) Methods of perception: refers to the way in which the subject perceives the configuration plan. The interpretation may be global “G” on the whole (first board “a butterfly”) or the interpretation of a great detail “D” (“hamster”), the interpretation of a rare detail (“shrub”, “Dd”). There could also appear intermacular, which refers to the gap between patches or contours. There are also inhibitory responses, “DO” concerning an isolated part of a detail of the plan, “the head of a cat.”

To the child, global responses represented to a syncretism level of perception and a pre logical way of thinking, specific to the ages of 4 and 5 years. Discussion is based on the basis of Gestalt theory and development stage, after Piaget.

The first global reaction, at the age of 3 years involves confusion between real and unreal and it proves the fact that at this age everything similar is considered to be identical.

The articulation of the details becomes possible at next stage, when the child’s perception is firstly syncretism, then global, later becomes superior analytical, by making flexible cutouts depending on the stimulus.

b) Formal determinant F: the child expresses himself mainly through the form that reflects the experience of objective reality and the richness of information. We can distinguish in the responses of children a formal descriptive determinant, that represents how to face the reality and a formal dynamic determinant, in which the reality known is influenced by the desire or fear and this by the presence of an adjective, which marks the form of “a killer butterfly.” The adjectives are revealing for the subject’s attitudes to the external world, but can score even the self-evaluation and the position they adopt to the world.

As the child is younger, the more so the form focuses his reactivity. Formal assessment can be appropriate “F+”, incorrect “F-” or indeterminate “F + -”.

c) The color determinants: chromatic qualities of stimuli, live or neutral, causing responses that are situated at different levels, although their common trait remains the emotional one. It is important to note how the subject develops a response that will contain either in the foreground the color reaction (CF), which will hold, then the formal response or the subject will develop pseudo-intellectual responses detached from the immediate reactions caused by stimulation of sensory color (FC).

The reaction to red color must be differentiated from the answers that are given for pastel colors, the latter involving harmless responses, temperate, red color reaction designs how the subject manages aggression, rivalry, castration. Confusing nature of the responses or delimited one represents an essential element of interpretation.

All authors agree on the fact that massive color responses; “blood”, “fire” may be normative at children as at adults, but the alarming degradation of perception can be pathogenic, also taking into account the subject’s age. The child’s brutal reactions at color or diffuse reactions are the result of cognitive and emotional maturation, also taking into account his previous experiences, of its specific age needs.

d) Kinesthetic determinants: It is characterized by the perception of motion and dynamic pictures. The projection of a movement on a configuration space represents is a creation, an appeal to imaginary, an insight into the unconscious, more deep or shallow, containing morbid or healthy one, in order to build a defense that goes through a driving motion. There are motivations, fears, desires, and a small fruit of creations.

Kinesthetic determinants are: animal’s kinaesthesia (Kan) phenomena or objects kinaesthesia (Kob), human kinaesthesia (K).

Regarding bestiary, we expect that younger children of 9-10 years to organize animated responses, in which animals translate human relations, concerning: frivolity, jealousy, aggression. The child can transpose human motion in characters of stories, like: dwarfs, witches, fairies to satisfy his desires or to control his own fears.

These transformations are based on his needs, his self-image, his strength or his weakness.

e) Responses content: responses that are common in children are those which belong to the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom is also evoked by the child, “flower”, “ the head of a cat “, this in a mix of shapes and colors depending on the stimuli. You can send a mutilation or destruction message, fear or threat, “a killer butterfly.” The child creates, destroys, recreate to express his position to the world.

f) Psycho gram: recapitulation of the data obtained from test application will be made in the form of absolute numbers, of concerning the present factors and percentages.

Interpretation

Integrating all the factors cited will be made in the final synthesis. This will be tailored to the request for examination or other perspective of launched to clarify the psychological functioning of the subject, such as the projection of emotional conflicts, that generates the deviant behaviors, therapeutic targets, elucidation of some elements of differential diagnosis, the identification of issues relating to cognition, emotion and socialization maturation.

1) Release of the data on cognitive-perceptive modalities, to which the subject approaches the stimulus, as modes of expression of emotions (G-D-F-K-C) and

2) Release of the relative data to what is expressed: concerns, problems, anxieties designed at a phantasmatic level.

 

Conclusion

Child’s phantasmal activity enrolls in perceptual and cognitive development, and specific to the child’s Rorschach is discussed in terms of interference between the perception and the phantasmatic activity.

 

Clinical illustration

Stefania, 10 years, shows to the psychological consultation at the request of her grandmother, who is a physician and who accuses a number of behavioral problems that concern the girl, whom she has seen since the birth of the second child (a girl of 2 years and a half now). The grandmother considers that in the recent weeks, the situation has worsened. Thus, Stefania is very jealous of her little sister and expressed that by assaulting her several times.

Following these events, Stefania was punished by harsh physical corrections applied by her father and verbal insults from both parents. In recent weeks, the mother noticed that the girl became extremely aggressive with her entourage; also addressed to the nanny with bad words followed by crying when she invited her to make her homework. It should be noted that the parents are missing during the week and meet the children only at dinner; also the mother has frequent weekends when she is on guard, missing home for 48 hours. The family is organized with a tension climate, regarding the dispute between the two parents, on the subject of Stefania’s behavior towards her sister. In these conflicts, the mother tends to defend her and to attract the attention of the father; so he applies harsh penalties (she was beaten with a belt). The father accuses the mother for weakness and looks at Stefania as having a “bad character”. At school, academic results are good, but teacher noticed lately, verbal and even physical aggressive manifestations to a group of colleagues, with whom she used to be friends before. In discussions with the teacher and then with us, she said that the three colleagues with whom she is in conflict were had “spoken her badly from behind” and one day when the other kids were in gym class, she remained in the class, because she had a cold, and the three girls came to class, blocked the door and wanted to undress her, gibingly and have addressed with ugly words. After the investigation, the teacher believes that the girls wronged her.

Mother addresses two requests: a psychological evaluation to clarify the concern regarding the installation of a disease and help on changing her behavior

Observations on the subject’s behavior: Stefania is a pleasant presence, manifests loquacity during the interview that preceded the psychological exam. Is attentive, spontaneous when she answers and approaches with seriousness and interest the tasks included in tests. During the second month (weekly meetings) that included outside the psychological examination, and therapeutic interventions (role play, home tasks), the girl was very motivated and made progress on behavioral change.

6.1. The structure of psychological examination: we applied tests to assess the level of intellectual development and projective tests, whose results may concern the dynamics conflicting analysis of psychological of mental functioning.

6.2. Presentation of results

6.2.1. W.I.S.C.-R test: the subject gets a global I.Q. of 118, expressed by verbal I.Q. of 126 and non-verbal I.Q. of 61. Poor results on non-verbal performance are expressed by low grades obtained on the test “Arranging images” (note 17) and to test “ Kochs’ cubes” (note 16).

6.2.2. Expression through drawing tests

Family drawing: the subject places himself between the two parents (see Figure 1), holding hands. Valued character is the mother, which she draws the first and larger sizes. Devalued character is the little sister, who is missing from the drawing; defense mechanism used here is the denial of reality, this causing anxiety. Need of protection, support is designed by drawing hands intertwined between the characters with the need of thickening in the contact tracing.

Enchanted family: she draws a “fairy” (see Figure 2), who “can not spell this family, that she is running away because of wrangling.” The subject does not want to talk about this topic, because her drawing refers to a “certain family” in which the parents look out the window of the house and outside children are “fighting” (lower right corner, heavily shaded stick, the two characters are equal as dimensions).

Free drawing (see Figure 3): the subject uses colors this time, a lack of human characters, the presence of pressure lines alternating with light lines and shapes and milder forms, pastel colors with dark colors, emphasizing the subject’s alternating between calm and excitability. Note in the lower left corner, the three tree trunks united in a single crown, moving the need for security and support of the subject in a different symbolic register, which designs the fuzional link with primary objects.

6.2.3. Thematic tests

Duss’s Fables: analysis of responses (Annex I), this sample highlights some interesting aspects especially concerning how the subject relates to the relationship with parental imago. In fable “Bird” (1) she chooses to be alone, although that is still in an immature stage of emotional and physical development; does not feel secure with any of the parents: “ the attempt to fly on a smaller tree. “

Fable “Fear” (5), the presence of strain binds its anguish, “someone in the family, scared her.”

Fable “Objects made” (7), designs ambivalent feelings towards the mother imago: “If she loves her mother”…… “If she does not care for her mother.”

Fable “Stroll with mother or father” (8), fantasy brings forward a character pattern insecure, isolated: “with her problems and is very upset.”

Fable “News” (9), a fantasy character designs maternal rejection attitudes towards the child who is “dirty”.

Conclusion: The subject designs relationships with parenting imago, through phantasmatic scenarios containing insecure which causes feelings of guilt, expelling aggressive expressing impulses that create anxiety.

6.2.4. Non-directive tests: Rorschach test

Analysis protocol (Annex II) responses we built on two main axes presented theoretical exposure of the study, namely: (a) the interpretation of ways in which the subject organizes cognitive-perceptual processes related to stimulus and (b) the interpretation of expression emotions.

a) Location of responses is represented by the types of perceptual stimuli, by global responses (G) and high detailed answers (D), the ratio is of 46% (G) of 53% (D), which is a solid reference to reality and thinking effective mechanisms associated with negative forms, in some situations: first board: “a black butterfly, fierce, which has horns” or fourth board: “a killer butterfly”, which means anxiety, fear. The subject organizes global responses (G) impressionist or syncretism, meaning responses that relate to all payments, are spontaneous, and based on specific sensory and younger children. If our subject’s case, from the viewpoint of perceptual-cognitive development phase is close to the stage of logic controller, the answers highlights certain immature of knowledge, these responses being infiltrated by the pressure of the primary emotions.

High detailed answers (D), relative to the total number of responses (7), being almost equal to the global responses (G), indicating the subject’s skills to discriminate concrete situations, being inclined towards efficiency tasks they have to fulfill.

Responses form (F), provide information about the processes of attention and concentration acuity of thought and give information on the ability of the subject to control the creative imagination from interference with his emotional reactions. Responses F + (5), compared to the F- (3) and the F + – (4) indicate through the proportions a sustained effort from the subject’s part to control reality against the primary pulsating pressure, indicating a conduct of socialization located in a delicate balance.

Movement responses (K), highlight in the first place the insertion of the subject in reality and the control that she has over hers production phantasmal. In the case of this protocol, the total number of replies K (4), insignificant only that as it related to the quality that she designates broach the subject’s social behavior and decreased ability to control ghosts that come from the unconscious. One single response K is extensive and it refers to a natural phenomenon, fourth board: “Two tornadoes, dust rising up, and coming from a village.” Other two answers K with respect to human persons are, one static, ninth board: “…a woman who sees her in the mirror” and one aims to position for a segment of the body, seventh board: “hands stacked” and the fourth extension response K refers to animals, eighth board: “…hamsters that have descended from a flower.”

Color C answers, rated FC, ​​C, CF, highlight the subject’s emotional reaction to the board and pure C responses are predominantly symptomatic in which the subject can not distinguish one form. In the case of our protocol, the subject elaborates three answers FC and one C, which indicates a high degree of emotional rigidity in approaching the content of the boards, trying to keep under control hers emotions, anxiety erupts into a single answer, to ninth board: “patchwork color”. Lack of emotional responsiveness to reactions adequacy or the inability to control emotions weaken the the quality of the processes of knowledge and adaptive behaviors in our subject.

Responses contents reflect “what the subject saw”. In the foreground appear answers with animal responses, which represents 69% of all responses and responses with human content, which represents 23% of all responses; this report of 9A/3H raises the subject’s problem to invest in the relationship with the other, in a mature way as a retreat (regression) in an infant universe, inferior in terms of adaptive actual chronological age. Human responses, H, occurring in third board: “Two people, two girls …..” and ninth board: “two women or a woman who looks in the mirror” (favorite board she drew, figure 4, stressing the need for the narcissistic side as well as the need of unification of the self) are responses that may constitute the evidence of hers resources which the subject has to move from a relational and communication point of view, in a therapy program.

b) Emotional dynamics, strength of emotional control can reveal the ability of the subject to manage deep emotions leaving them to manifest in a adaptive way, without that they disrupt the processes of thinking relational demeanors and this through mechanisms that stabilize the emotions. Formal responses F, as those of motion K have a moderating role of affective dynamics. The type of intimate resonance, in our subject’s case, express labile affectivity, oriented towards the outside that by arranging relational behavior, within therapy may lead to a better adaptation. The presence of strong aggressive responses, with notes of anguish, first board: “A black butterfly, fierce, horned, has eyes”, second board:”…or a monster face”, fourth board: “a killer butterfly”, are the projection of the defense mechanisms of the ego – regressive type, the real response to a threatening, insecure.

Summary of formal analysis:

Subject shows weakening knowing processes of cognition and affective, developing defense mechanisms, the regressive type of environmental pressures perceived as insecure and threatened. Adapting to social behavior is affected by the projection of the relating difficulties to each other, because of inadequate management of aggressive type of primary impulses.

Discussion: The analysis obtained by applying the Rorschach Test to a subject of latent age, who present behavioral disorders, predominantly reactive revealed not only aspects for the psychological disfunctionality on different levels of intra-psychic activity, but also emotional and cognitive resources, which could base on future therapeutic interventions, using role play techniques and homework, while engaging entourage of encouraging changes.

Annex 1

Try to fly on a smaller tree.

Maybe something happened.

He listened to his mother who told him to eat some grass.
That „someone” I think is an uncle or an aunt who they were very upset and have decided to leave and not return.
Maybe he is in a dark room and he is afraid of what they told him his friends or someone in the family (they scared him).
Maybe he met with his friends, which they had also elephants, by mistake, they did exchange, or maybe his trunk has broken.

If he loves his mother maybe he will give it with great pleasure, but if he don’t loves his mother, but hates her, doesn’t love her, he will not give her.
Maybe he came home from work, with his problems and is very angry because of this.
They will tell you three things: to change your clothes, to wash hands, face and where is needed because it is dirty and have some food.
Maybe he dreamed things which he doesn’t like or things said by relatives, friends, etc, to scare him.

Stefania – 10 years old
L. Duss’s Fables

 

Annex 2

Rorschach – Stefania, 10 years

Elections:  board IX-„ For as the woman looks in the mirror.” (She draw–view fig. 4 – median line which sectioning the board is strongly underline).

Psychodram

R: 13 Type of perception : G –D – Dd Type of intimate resonances  – extratensiv

Fc: 3 ; Rc: 15 % ; C: 1; H: (3) – 23 % ; Hd: (1) ; A: (9) – 69 % ; G: (6) – 46%; D: (7) – 53%; F: (N=12) -92 %; F (+): (5) – 38%; F (+/-): (4) -30%; F (-): (3)  -23 %.

Annex 3

1.”I don’t know how to behave and I’m an obstacle between people and that is why I feel  to kill myself  (to make myself hara-kiri). I have only one desire: to die and don’t overdrive me or I want that the people behave nicely. I say this in many ways: not to beat, not quarrel, not to talk ugly, etc, (desires)”
2.”My greatest anger is when someone beats me or don’t behave nicely (not only with me).”

Wishes and troubles – open answers

Annex 4

1. What do you think about most often?
2. You want to change? How?

Answers:

„I think most often to a very sad thing:  never going to change myself because I can’t do this  … it’s too late.

Yes, I would like very much to exchange, better said, I wanted to exchange. When I wanted to exchange I knew I will succeed, but it was not so. Now, I want to change but I don’t succeed. I want to die and to rid the world of me, a devil and a hypocrite, because this is how I was considered by all the people and so I’ll be always considered. I want to be a girl how you consider your.

Annex 5

Role games, in which the child has been trained with enough enthusiasm.

The therapist played the role of Stefania, and she the role of Camelia (the housekeeper), of the mother and of the grandmother. All the characters were worn badly with her, pushing her, screaming her. Afterwards the girl proposed „to play better roles”. Camelia talks nice, mom the same, and Stefania wear nice, she have colleagues in visit. At the end of session Stefania embraces with the characters. Today she told me very mysterious what found in the closet at the parents „condoms” and as this thing has disappointed her. I explained that it is normal because her mother and her father form a couple and perhaps they decided not to have other children. In another session, she told me that she had read in a book about how children appear, topic what we have commented together.

(Excepts from the session)

 

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