• Investigating the clinical utility of the Draw-A-Person: Screening Procedure for Emotional Disturbance (DAP:SPED) projective test in assessment of high-risk youth. A measurement validation study

      Matto, Holly Christine; Munson, Carlton E. (2000)
      The usefulness of human figure drawings, as clinical assessment tools, has been of interest to clinicians and researchers for decades. Human figure drawings, when validated as psychometrically sound assessment tools, provide several measurement advantages. Such methods are less problematic with regard to bias or distortion as compared to self-report inventories, and are time-efficient. The non-verbal testing format is appropriate for children with less verbal ability and/or compromised reading comprehension, and can make for more facile assessment when working with resistant clients. The research objective of this study was to explore the validity of one specific human figure drawing instrument, the Draw-A-Person: Screening Procedure for Emotional Disturbance (DAP:SPED; Naglieri, McNeish, & Bardos, 1991), that has emerged from recent measurement advancements. The study examined whether the DAP:SPED was a significant predictor of emotional and behavioral functioning within a clinical sample of latency-aged children (6-12 years old) receiving counseling services at outpatient and residential treatment facilities in Maryland (N = 68). Child functioning constructs included: behavior, psychosocial adjustment, and self-esteem. Study results showed that the total DAP:SPED (man, woman, and self scores summed) was a significant predictor in explaining behavioral disturbance and two psychosocial adjustment domains, hostility and productivity, after statistically controlling for salient demographic variables. In addition, the DAP:SPED self drawing and woman drawing alone were significant predictors of behavior and self-esteem; the DAP:SPED man drawing alone was a significant predictor of productivity. This suggests that behavioral assessment may be expedited by administering just one drawing directive, the self or woman drawing, with minimal clinical information lost. Findings from this study lend preliminary support to the DAP:SPED's validity in providing social work practitioners and school counselors information about child functioning, that could be used in determining service decisions. Instrument administration can be easily integrated into a routine curriculum or daily schedule, taking less than ten minutes to score. One potential use would be to include the DAP:SPED as part of existing screening protocols, in an era where the risk and consequences of undetected dysfunction are grave. Continued DAP:SPED measurement validation studies, along these lines, are warranted.