Using pictures to highlight mental health issues

This is a section of a blog post written for The PIE by Pat Moores, Director of UK Education Guide Here you can see the text with the visuals for explanation (in The PIE blog the visual is not available). We believe that using visuals captures really important issues quickly. It covers ground much more quickly than words can, especially for younger children and international students who are still building their english.


In my work with students I have found it increasingly helpful to capture important issues using quick drawings. They can sum up how a person feels or the issues in their life very powerfully. I began using this technique after a training in cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) which uses pictures and diagrams very heavily. It also helps because both you and the client are sitting together looking down at the visual and therefore lessens the intensity of a session. This is a feature of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and I like to capture this too in my sessions.

Using pictures means that core issues can be boiled down and understood very quickly. In the following few blogs I will use some of the pictures that I have created in recent sessions to explore key issues in therapeutic work, such as how our feelings filter what we see.

For the time being here is a small part of the blog post written for the PIE. Here is the link to the full article

” Liz provides the example of a Chinese student who had suffered from bullying by teachers and students in his earlier years, and via the use of visual images he was able to explain this. He showed, via images he drew, that in class he sat with his back to the wall, at the back of the class, carried weapons when out at night and did not form friendships. Liz then drew a picture of his heart locked inside a strong box with a big padlock on it.

A heart locked in a box

‘This picture captured what he was doing emotionally in order to protect himself and he understood this immediately. The picture also highlighted how much his awareness was being filtered by the way he was locking the world out’.