by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
Scribble drawing is a simple yet powerful art therapy technique that requires no artistic skill or prior knowledge. It begins with a randomized act of making unstructured scribbles on paper. The absence of structure and intention creates a space where the mind can roam freely and bypass self-criticism, allowing individuals to open up and connect with their emotions in a profound and authentic way.
In art therapy, a "scribble drawing" is a technique where one is encouraged to make random and spontaneous scribbles on paper using any art medium, such as pencils, crayons, pastels or markers. The process involves creating unstructured and freeform lines, shapes, and patterns without any specific intention or preconceived idea of what the final drawing will look like.
The scribble drawing technique encourages a playful and child-like approach to art-making. This uninhibited playfulness can help individuals reconnect with their inner child, facilitating emotional healing and encouraging a sense of joy and wonder. Amidst its simplicity lies a profound capacity to unlock emotions and foster self-expression.
Once the scribble is created, one can then choose to go further in developing an image from the seemingly chaotic and randomized scribble. An individual may, for instance, choose to view the scribble drawing from multiple perspectives and develop the scribble into an identifiable symbol or image. In this projective task, it is up to the creator to develop the scribble into something identifiable and significant.
The scribble drawing technique in art therapy was developed by Florence Cane, an American art therapist. She introduced this method in the 1930s as a means to facilitate emotional expression and access unconscious thoughts and feelings through spontaneous scribbling. Florence Cane was a pioneer in the field of art therapy and made significant contributions to its development as a therapeutic approach. She believed that art could be a powerful tool for self-discovery and healing, and her work laid the foundation for many art therapy techniques still used today.
As mentioned, the purpose of engaging in a scribble drawing in art therapy is to facilitate emotional expression, explore unconscious thoughts and feelings, and gain access to one’s inner world through spontaneous and unfiltered creation. Since the act of scribbling is non-restrictive and doesn't require technical skills, it allows us to bypass our inner critic and connect more authentically with our emotions. The absence of structure and intention creates a space where the mind can roam freely and bypass self-criticism, allowing individuals to open up and connect with their emotions in a profound and authentic way.
The art therapist may ask open-ended questions during or after the scribble drawing session to help an individual reflect on the experience and gain insights into their emotions and thought processes. It can also be used as a warm-up exercise before engaging in other art therapy activities or as a means to break through creative blocks.
The Scribble Drawing Technique in art therapy is a powerful and accessible tool that unlocks the healing potential of spontaneous creativity. Through this unstructured process, individuals can explore their emotions and generate meaning through spontaneous self-expression. Art therapists play a crucial role in guiding individuals through this process, providing a safe and supportive environment for creative self-expression and growth. Embracing the simplicity and playfulness of the Scribble Drawing Technique, individuals can embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and emotional healing through art.