Reflection Tree

Paper tree with notes on leaves

Paper tree with notes on leaves

Objective: To help participants reflect on their life.

Materials: Recycled cardboard, colored paper, black pen, glue stick, scissors, paper, pencils, markers, paints, pens, real leaves or other natural materials.


During the fall season in many of our states, there tends to be natural changes occurring in the environment such as changes in the colors of leaves, falling leaves, barren trees, decrease in weather temperatures, and daylight saving changes making daylight minimal. 

At the same time, the holiday season begins to take shape which also includes preparations for the end of year and the beginning of a new one.  All of these factors can lead up to a time for self reflection.  For some, this can lead to a very emotional time.  Environmental shifts can be used metaphorically to help in the processing and sorting of emotions during this time.  I have used the reflection tree as a foundation for various art interventions  during individual and group sessions. 

Reflective Tree

I attached a simple example of a tree that was created using recycled cardboard strips, colored paper leaves and grass glued onto paper.  I chose to create a "Thankful Tree" and wrote down various things that I am thankful for on the leaves which I did in preparation of Thanksgiving. 

In the past participants have created a "Hopeful Tree" what am I hopeful for during this season, new year, etc.  I have worked with clients who are in a very difficult spot in their life and at the moment are not thankful or hopeful.  They have created reflecting trees to look at what they would like to change in their lives, "Changing Tree."  I have also seen barren trees created with reflections written on the lines.  Sometimes words aren't used or even necessary. 

There are so many different ways of creating a reflection tree and the choice of materials can be based on the clients needs in treatment.  This project could be  used in a variety of settings, various ages and populations.

Participants can work individually  or as a group by creating a reflection-tree mural or as a class bulletin board/mural as well.