How to Make a Genogram by lfsmj2010


									How to Make a Genogram
A genogram is a family map or history that uses special symbols to
describe relationships, major events, and the dynamics of a family over
multiple generations. Mental health and medical professionals often use
genograms to identify patterns of mental and physical illnesses such as
depression, bipolar disorder, cancer and other genetic diseases. To begin
a genogram you will need to interview family members first. Then, you can
use standard genogram symbols to create a diagram that documents your
family's specialized history.
1Determine your reason for creating a genogram. The purpose will help you
to focus on the type of family information you want to collect. It's also
liable to help you decide with whom you will share the completed
diagram¨C¨Csometimes the information might be considered upsetting or too
sensitive for some family members, so you'll need to judge that depending
on the context.<Genograms can focus on a number of issues including
substance abuse, mental illness, and physical violence, as well as many
physical illnesses.
Genograms can provide health care workers with a visual document that
tracks the history of your current mental or medical problem through your
family bloodline.

2Decide how many generations you'd like to represent in your genogram.
This will give you a clear idea of who you will need to approach for
information to complete your diagram and whether this will be possible
given people's ages and geographical distribution.Don't forget that you
can use email, Skype and other communications devices to get in touch
with far-flung family members even if you can't afford to/don't want to
travel to talk to them in person.

3Research your family history. Write down everything you know first. When
you've exceeded your own knowledge, talk to family members. Ask questions
about family relationships and significant events. Take good notes.Be
mindful that these discussions may be difficult for some family members.
Be prepared to listen to lots of stories. Stories are the best means by
which we remember and transfer information¨C¨Cencourage these as they
arise by listening attentively and asking open-ended questions that
motivate the person to share more information.
You may also be able to find information through web searches or family
books. However, you should be sure that this information is accurate if
you decide to use it, which means you may need to cross-check it directly
with living persons.

4Design your genogram. Genogram templates are available that can be
completed online or filled out by hand. You can also purchase software
programs designed specifically for creating genograms.
5Use standard genogram symbols to represent family members and their
relationships, both normal and dysfunctional. The symbols act as a visual
indicator of the information you gathered in your interviews. You can
draw the standard genogram symbols by hand or by using the "draw" or
"shapes" options in a word processing program.Males are indicated by a
square. When indicating a marriage, position the male symbol to the left.
Women are indicated by a circle. When indicating a marriage, position the
female symbol to the right.
A single horizontal line indicates marriage and two slanted lines
The oldest child is always below and to the left of his family, whereas
the youngest should be below and to the right.
Other available symbols help you describe family events such as pregnancy
or miscarriage, illnesses and deaths. There is even a diamond symbol to
represent pets.

6Organize the chart based on family interactions beginning with the
oldest generation you want to represent. For example, you may decide to
start your genogram with your grandparents or even your great
grandparents. Genograms can be used to show the diversity in family
relationships as well as patterns of illnesses.A genogram includes
symbols to indicate family interactions such as conflict, closeness,
estrangement, etc. Emotional relationships have specific symbols that
help keep the flow of the genogram clear.
There are also symbols that denote sexual and physical abuse as well as
mental and physical disorders.

7Look for patterns. Once you've made the genogram, look carefully to see
what patterns can be identified. There may be hereditary patterns or
particular psychological tendencies that are very noticeable when grouped
together in this way.Be careful about making assumptions. The data is one
thing but avoid using it to confirm that your family has a particular
disease issue. Talk to a medical professional about any potential for
hereditary problems of this type.
Avoid using the genogram to make assumptions about the motivations of
family members, or using this to confront them. While you might find a
tendency for Uncle Fred to quit every job he has ever had and cousin
Millie has always seemed to steal other people's boyfriends, it's not a
good idea to wave the genogram in front of their faces to "prove" your
point that they need psychoanalysis. Be very careful to avoid approaching
your family members in a judgmental way as a result of making a genogram;
talk to your family or personal counselor before proceeding to reach
conclusions from a self-generated genogram.
If you're writing up the family history, patterns established in a
genogram can be very helpful as a way of explaining why ancestral family
members left one geographical area for another, what sorts of
relationship issues they had and may help to unearth family members who
were not officially recognized.

Always maintain the confidentiality of family members when sharing your
genogram with non-family members.
Keep your completed genogram in a secure place. The information
represented in the diagram could be embarrassing or harmful to some
family members.
Genograms are also known as also known as a McGoldrick-Gerson study or a
Lapidus Schematic.[1]
Genograms can also be used with plant and animal species, to find
mutations and survival skills, etc.
This can be an excellent classroom exercise; have the students select a
famous person of their choice and research this person's background and
family to try and assemble a genogram. This should be made easier using
the internet but recognize its limitations too¨C¨Cthis should be treated
as a research exercise, not one seeking absolute completeness.

Never use a genogram to confront a family member without the guidance of
a counselor or health care professional.

Things You'll Need
Note pad
Drawing paper
Word processing program (optional)
Genogram template or genogram design software

Related wikiHows
How to Research Your Family Tree With Online Census Records
How to Draw a Family Tree
How to Use Facebook to Research Your Family Tree
How to Get Started With a Research Project

Sources and Citations¨C research source
pdf¨C research source¨C research
source¨C Free Genogram Template

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