The use of drawings and naïve sketches in qualitative health research is particularly relevant in investigating personal experiences, attitudes and feelings, as well as narrating experiences and perceptions. In the case of drawings, participants use projection for inferring underlying motives, urges or intentions that cannot be secured through direct questioning, as participants either resist revealing them or are unable to discover the experiences themselves. The purpose of this paper was to describe the use of drawings and naïve sketches in conducting qualitative research on the transition of beliefs and aspirations of student nurses working in a psychiatric ward. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual research design was used. The participants for the study were (27 female and 2 male) fourth-year student nurses from a purposefully selected nursing education institution who work in psychiatric wards. Data were collected by means of three focus group interviews, as well as drawings and naïve sketches of the participants’ and the researcher’s field notes. Tesch’s method of open coding was used to analyse data. Ethical principles were observed and trustworthiness was ensured. The results show that student nurses experience a range of challenges in the clinical psychiatric learning environment. However, through the use of drawings and naïve sketches they come to an emancipated understanding of their growth and development capacity. It was suggested that the support needs of student nurses in the clinical psychiatric learning environment cannot be ignored. Drawings and naïve sketches are recommended for use by advanced psychiatric nurse educators and other mental health care practitioners to assist student nurses to realise their potential in the clinical psychiatric learning environment.