Definition

The Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS) is a three-picture art interview developed in 1982 by art therapists Barry M. Cohen and Barbara Lesowitz. The DDS Rating Guide (Cohen, 1986/1994) provides clearly defined and illustrated criteria that highlight the structure, not the content, of the drawings. First presented in 1983 as a pilot study at the annual American Art Therapy Association conference, the DDS was granted the Research Award by the association that same year for its multicenter collaborative design. The DDS was the first art therapy assessment for adults to be systematically correlated with the nomenclature of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) through research.

The DDS is one of the best-known and most commonly taught art therapy assessments. It first entered the published literature in 1985, when the Handbook was made widely available and the test itself was profiled in the American Psychological Association's newsletter, Monitor. More than 50 DDS studies have been completed to date, making the DDS the most concentrated area of research in the field of art therapy, internationally. Most studies norm different DSM diagnostic groups.

An Archive of DDSs from sites around the world exists near Washington, DC as a resource for art therapy researchers.