Chapter 25: The use of the Children’s Apperception Test and Thematic Apperception Test in South Africa

AUTHORS: R. Gericke, Z. Amod, K. Bain

ABSTRACT: This chapter will explore the practice, clinical use and cross-cultural application of two thematic projective techniques, the Childrens’ Apperception Test (CAT) and Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). Thematic apperception tests are recognised as valuable tools to unobtrusively access object relations (Kelly, 2007), unconscious conflicts, anxieties, wishes, feelings and needs that may otherwise be defended against. Through projection access to the internal world is gained through a means that is less threatening than being subjected to interviews or self-report questionnaires. A brief introduction to and definition of thematic story telling techniques will be followed by discussions on reliability and validity, test administration and clinical application, and clinical tips. The CAT and TAT are consistently selected as favoured tests across professional registrations, the TAT being the test most favoured by clinical psychologists in SA (Foxcroft, Paterson, le Roux & Herbst, 2004). Given this, the cross-cultural implications of using these tests need to be addressed (De Vos, 2004; Hofer & Chasiotis, 2004; Mclerney & Liem, 2009). Whilst textbooks and scoring manuals are available, this chapter has a strong focus on clinical application within a South African context and provides guidelines for clinicians working within the field. Further to this, a strong focus on illustrative case material will allow the utility as well as the limitations to be discussed in greater depth. Other thematic apperception tests available will be introduced (The Columbus Test, The SA Picture Analysis Test, The Make a Story Test, Michigan Picture Test, Sexual Apperception Test and The Children’s Self-Report and Project Inventory). Finally, suggestions for future research including validating the use of the CAT and TAT in diagnosing attachment patterns will be discussed.

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