Family drawings before and after treatment for child conduct problems

fluidity of family dysfunction

Lilian Kloft*, David Hawes, Caroline Moul, Sonia Sultan, Mark Dadds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Children’s drawings have previously been found to reflect their representations of family relationships. The present study examined whether evidence-based parent training for child conduct problems impacts on representations of family functioning using the Family Drawing Paradigm (FDP). N = 53 clinic-referred children (aged 3–15) with conduct problems and their families were assessed pre-treatment and at 6-month follow-up on a modified version of the FDP. Analyses of changes in the FDP revealed improvements in family functioning but not tone of language (as indicated by written descriptors) following treatment. Higher family dysfunction scores were associated with increased levels of callous-unemotional (CU) traits in the children pre-treatment. Children with high levels of CU, however, demonstrated greater change in FDP dysfunction than a low CU group, resulting in similar levels at follow-up. CU traits also moderated the association between change in family warmth and conduct problem severity, with increased FDP warmth more strongly related to improved conduct problems in the high vs. the low CU group. FDP drawings are sensitive to changes in family functioning arising from parent training, accounting for unique variance in child outcomes independent of verbal reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3476–3489
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number12
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • parent training
  • conduct problems
  • callousunemotional traits
  • family functioning
  • family drawings

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