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You’re troubled. You have behaviours that you constantly repeat; tenacious patterns in your life you aren’t able to escape. Perhaps you attract a certain type of person, a reflection of things you’d like to change in yourself. Or maybe you’re just a bit blue (aren’t we all this time of year?).
Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk in to a counsellor’s or psychologist’s office with a handwritten note that somehow fast tracks your progress past all the get-to-know-you questions, straight to the success session? So, instead of six weeks of expensive appointments, you have a breakthrough on day one?
It sounds too good to be true, but Columbia-trained psychotherapist, social worker and clinical graphologist Annette Poizner has written a guide that could help mental health practitioners learn more about their clients in that first appointment than just what meets the eye.
It’s all in the words the patient writes down, and they way in which they write them.
Poizner’s goal with her book Clinical Graphology: An Interpretive Manual for Mental Health Practitioners, is to initiate a dialogue around new innovations in mental health and methods of assessment — how to help fellow therapists see a bigger picture faster.
As a regular contributor to Dujour and Huffington Post, Poizner is best known for her analysis of celebrity signatures and what they reveal about the person. But in a 90-minute phone call from her Toronto-area practice to analyze my script, she dove into a lot more than just my personality traits.
Through a simple set of hand-written homework exercises that were scanned and emailed to Poizner prior to our session, I unknowingly created a road map for my psyche that exposed things that I wouldn’t have expected to reveal until the third or fourth week in a traditional counselling environment.
Perhaps most engaging was her ability to switch between science and mysticism, talking chakras and acupuncture as a healing tool if you are at a road block in life.
She also made a blind observation about the link between my signature and a series of events in my life, that inspired me to spend the next few days trying out new ones on scrap paper. Just for fun, of course…
Called projective personality assessment, there is a confidence to Poizner’s delivery; it’s no party trick. Poizner explains projective assessment as a discipline that allows clinicians to learn about personality by analyzing drawings, written material, and other behaviors. And, in her words, handwriting is the “written trace of each individual’s preferred rhythm, style and habitual manner of moving.” (see BETWEEN THE LINES) So, graphology, when used alongside other measures, allows the most dominant themes of the patient’s life to emerge.
After completing her doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto, which explored the use of graphology within psychotherapy, Poizner went on to present in academic circles, such as at the 2011 Canadian Psychological Association conference and found the Milton H. Erickson Institute of Toronto, a training centre for psychotherapists.
Poizner insists, with the popularity of texting and typing, that handwriting is a crucial skill to maintain. Not only does it engage important brain functions such as processing and coordination, but built into our words and doodles is a window for a trained clinician into our character.
In her literature, Poizner goes so far as to compare the difference between handwriting and typing to learning to play the violin versus learning to play the triangle. As more and more people lose their fluid script, however, the 400-year-old art of graphology might be rendered obsolete in the future.
So only one month into the new year, it’s not too late to evaluate your outlook for 2013 and think about writing your own map out of the mental maze. Poizner’s services are available by phone, and she can be reached at 1-416-280-6442 or through AnnettePoizner.com.
Freud famously said, “If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips.”
So keep crossing those T’s and dotting those I’s, in moderation, of course.
For more from Poizner on how to analyze your own handwriting, click HERE.