Tell Me About the House-Tree-Person (H-T-P) test

The House-Tree-Person (H-T-P) is a psychological test, and is supposed to evaluate the taker’s personality.
In the test, the examined person is asked to draw (on separate sheets) a house, a tree, and a person. Some versions do this twice – once with pencils, and once with crayons. Then, a short story about each picture is to be written, or, sometimes, questions are being asked.

I seem to recall that the test was originally constructed as an intelligence test, but later changed to personality test.

So, what do the pictures mean (if anything)? Can they be (at least partially) analyzed by non-experts?
And most importantly – is this a “legit” test? I.e., is it acceptable as a correct and proper way for assessing someone’s personality?

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders:

Thanks, Tom.

I actually found the link you provided. I realize that a full-scale analysis requires quite a lot of pre-knowledge and preparation. However, various place on the web claim to give guidelines (a small house indicates X, a tree with thin truck and a lot of branches indicates Y, etc.). I wonder if these claims have any merit.

But, my main question is if this test is valid. I had a (short version of this) test administered to me a short while back and I remember I felt curious about it. I Googled it then, and IIRC found that since the 1980’s the test is considered faulty – the same individual will produce very different results at different times. But I can’t find it again

It’s been several years since I took abnormal psychology, but this was one of the tests we discussed (along with the Thematic Apperception Test, and of course ink blobs) but I got the impression that it can still be useful. I don’t think it’s taken to be a definitive end-all, be-all test, but I think it still has some usefulness.

I can’t remember everything, but supposedly drawing a tree that just goes off the top of the page (and thus has no top) is supposed to represent a fear of castration - the tree, I think, is the main “sexual” image. Drawing a house with closed windows and door is supposed to mean a ‘closed’ personality. I can’t recall what the person is supposed to represent; I do recall that the sex of the person one draws had some importance.

At any rate, going from my undergrad psychology classes, it’s not something you’d use to diagnose, but it could provide some possible insight.

IANAP, I just remember this being a point in Silence of the Lambs - the book, at least, not sure if it was in the movie. Dr. Lecter said the killer may have tried to get sexual reassignment surgery but wouldn’t test as a real transsexual with the HTP thing. I don’t remember how he “would” test, though.

Thanks for the effort, guys.
And a special thanks to BlakeTyner. Precisely the type of answer I was hoping for.