‘The Tree’

The Tree Of Life Therapy Cards

For literary convenience, the terms patient and therapist represent teacher, counselor, coach, student, client, tutor, or participant.


What are the benefits of working with therapy cards?

This set of illustrated cards was created to enable communication between therapist and patient via the pictures on them. The patient’s interpretation of the cards can be a valuable aid to understanding his inner workings as the pictures evoke a range of feelings and thoughts which can result in fruitful dialogue between them.

Who can use these cards?

The cards can be used in different settings: in therapy, supervision, coaching, or any self development programs.

Why cards with trees?

The concept: The Tree of Life has been used in science, mythology, philosophy, psychology and in many other disciplines. The tree represents the mystical interconnectedness of all life on our planet. It has been, and remains the symbol for life and growth.

We talk of the tree of knowledge, which is connected to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, which is connected to all forms of creation. The image of the tree touches the core of the personality, body image and concepts of the self.

What do the pack of cards consist of?

There are twenty seven cards, each one illustrated by variations of the same tree. The cards therefore represent a “family” of trees, each one reflecting its individual emotional condition. For example: on one card the tree looks faded, on another, the tree is dramatic, the next is colorful, yet another is very small; there is a tree with background and a tree without, a festive tree with lights on, and a burnt tree …..

How to use the cards? The cards may be used either in a group setting or with individual patients.

The patient may be asked to choose a tree he likes most, or one he would like to be, or a tree that most resembles him. He might pick one to represent a family member. The therapist might ask an impersonal question such as: which tree is most interesting?

Or a question that does not necessarily imply a direct psychological implication such as: under which tree would he/she like to rest? (See examples of interventions with patients.) What are the cards testing?

Over the years there have been different tests where the subject is asked to draw a tree, designed to determine the person’s personality and state of emotional health. The purpose behind this pack of trees is to enable the patient to choose a tree that already exists, but it is not intended to test the person. The therapist may wish to investigate previous tests as they might give a better understanding of the patient’s choice.

This pack of cards is not intended to tie each tree to a specific personality but instead to create both on the part of therapist and patient a deeper understanding of the choice the patient has made as well as a tool for the therapist to aid her insight into the patient.

Examples of interventions with patients:

Adam is five years old; his parents were getting divorced from the time he himself remembers. Adam finds it difficult to talk about his parents. When looking through the cards he chooses for himself a tree small in size, a black and white one for his father calling the tree a “hard tree”, and a tree for his mother that is blurred naming it “unclear”. The connection he makes between his feelings to a visual picture and naming them is therapeutic in itself.

Ruth is an unsecure woman who has recently married, but who is afraid her husband will leave her. She chooses a tree that is prominent and states proudly: “This is my husband”. She then has difficulty in finding one for herself but eventually chooses one which is a faded tree and can hardly be seen. She says with a sigh: “This is me”. The pictures were the evidence she needed to explain her feelings.

Natasha is a frustrated artist who wants to settle down and lead a quieter, more orderly life. She chooses a colorful tree painted with unnatural colors, and says: “I like this”. After a long discussion about herself she chooses a tree that has not been processed and has remained natural and says: “This is what I must become, ordinary, and get back to Mother Nature”.

Anna comes into a session and declares that she feels detached. Looking through the cards she finds the tree she feels resembles her at the moment and chooses two other cards she feels are “much better ones”. Whilst talking she keeps looking at the two for reassurance and guidance about what she wishes to heal in her life.

Who created the cards? Leora Sotto has been working for the past 25 years as a professional Art Therapist.

For the past 11 years Leora has been a Lecturer in Art Therapy for trainee Art Therapists (Seminar Hakibuzim-Tel Aviv-Israel). In addition, she presents courses and seminars to the general public and other art therapy programs around the world.

Leora Sotto has written and illustrated a children’s book, and has had a book published on Art Psychotherapy, in which she discusses the subject both theoretically and from her own personal point of view and experience. It is called :”Being in Touch”. (Both books are written in Hebrew.)

Sotto has sculptured all her life, mainly with clay, exhibiting in five different group exhibitions in Israel and USA.

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