Building Your Family Genogram
Part I (GenoPro Genogram Software)
A genogram (pronounced: jen-uh-gram) is “a pictorial representation of family relationships across several generations. It is a convenient organizing device to help you identify family patterns or develop hypotheses about family functioning” (GenoPro.com). The genogram resembles a family tree; however, it includes additional relationships among individuals. This instrument facilitates the practitioner and his client’s identification of an understanding of patterns in family history. The genogram also does a better job than a pedigree chart in mapping out relationships and traits.
Even though there are a plethora of books and websites on the subject of genograms, it is worth noting that Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson are responsible for its initial development and popularity in clinical settings. The structure of a genogram is by and large determined by the imagination and creativity of its author. Some of the most common features on a genogram are information related to the number of families, children in a given family, and the birth order of the family members—including the number of births and deaths.
Index Person: In constructing the genogram, identify yourself as the “index person” and complete the genogram on your family.
Focus: The focus of this genogram will be on family strengths and resilience, family patterns, rules or ways of being, and the overall health of the family. Of course, you should also address any issues and concerns that may be discovered; however, do not make the genogram problem-focused, even though this is typically how it is used in counseling.
Construction: You will submit your genogram through the assignment manager via GenoPro, found by clicking the “assignments” button. This submission will come in as a GenoPro document. You will also need to attach your narrative on a Microsoft Word document. Make sure to include the following items:
- Two preceding generations—that is, the genogram must include the index person, his/her parents, and his/her grandparents (3 generations, in all). It would also be imperative that, in the event of the index person being involved in a marital or significant relationship, mention must be made of the significant other involved, including their immediate family such as their parents, siblings, and children. In the case where the index person is either a parent or a grand-parent, his/her children must be included in the genogram.
- Use the symbols as illustrated within the GenoPro software to indicate the nature of many of the relationships among family members. Be sure to indicate yourself as the index person by drawing a double circle or double square around yourself. Do not forget to include the current date on your genogram.
- Use the relationship lines to indicate significant relationships within the family system. Do not use the “normal” line provided by GenoPro. This only crowds the graphic and makes it difficult to read.
- Include a legend at the bottom-right corner of the genogram document. The legend must only include items represented on the genogram.