The meaning in a tree...

Symbolism plays an powerful part in the analysis and interpretation of art work during Art therapy. The tree for example, "is one of the richest and most wide-spread symbolic motifs" (Dictionary of Symbols, 1994, Penguin Reference Books). It is the symbol of life, can represent growth, and is symbolic of the re-birth archetype for those of you who are familiar with Jung's Four Main Archetypes.


In this Art therapy activity, I asked 2 clients to draw a tree. The drawing of a tree can provide a valuable insight into the client and where they are at in their life as well as their emotions and feelings towards this.


When interpreting the drawing there are three parts of the tree to consider:

  • The condition of the root system: this can represent how secure we are in our life.

  • The condition of the trunk: this can represent our direction in life.

  • The condition of the foliage: this can represent out attitude to ourselves and life.

In this first drawing (below) you can see the root system is very strong which shows the client is feeling stable and grounded. The solid trunk is straight, showing the client has a clear direction or purpose for their life at this time. The bright green foliage indicates a confident attitude and an ability to take care of themselves.

In this second drawing (below) there is no root system, only rocks, indicating that the client may be feeling insecure or uncertain about their life. The crooked branches indicate indecisiveness, insecurity or a lack of direction. While the sparse foliage and woody branches may indicate that client feels helpless, or has a negative attitude towards themselves or life at this time.

Thank you to my clients for the use of their artwork.

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