Many art therapists as well as counselors who work with art materials in their practice often have
questions in supervision about directed activities that they can do with children during initial
phases in therapy or at the start of a session. Scribbles and Squiggles is one of my favorite
art activities to suggest in answer to your requests.
Scribbles and Squiggles
Begin by getting yourself lots of paper (big sheets and small) and a pack of colored felt pens. Now stand
up with your eyes closed. Pretend that there is a huge piece of paper in front of you as wide and high
as your arms can reach. Now pretend you have crayons in both hands and make huge scribbles on the
imaginary paper using your whole body and using up every bit of the paper.
Now go to a real piece of paper and (with eyes either open or closed) draw a real scribble.
Now look at the scribble from all directions and see what you can find in the scribble. Are
there any forms that suggest a picture? Highlight any images that pop off the page at you.
Now either tell a story about the picture, be the picture and talk it, or talk to the picture and record
Why the scribbles?
The 'scribble technique' was first described by Edith Kramer as an unthreatening way to allow children
to express themselves and loosen up. It is a very useful activity to know about and experience. I often
use it during the initial stages of therapy with a child when they may still be a bit shy or scared. I also
use it often in response to the questions: ‘What do I do?' 'What should I draw?'. "Well how about we just
do something to warm up? Let's draw squiggles and see what pictures we can find in them."
Scribbles and squiggles can also be done interactively, with you as the therapist drawing alongside
or on the same page as the child. It can be made into a game like squiggle tag with each of you trying to
catch each other. In such cases, the activity can assist to build the therapeutic relationship.
Scribbles or squiggles can be adapted in many ways to fit your clients. They can help relax clients
and at the same time can often help bring forth much valuable information.