genogram template by markhardigan

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									                                                                    GENOGRAMS                                                              BeyondBehavior


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         In Context: The Use of Genograms with Students with
         Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
         ELIZABETH SEXTON
         CHRISTINE O. CHENEY
         UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO




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                 he adult outcomes for students         organizes complex information on family           see and talk about their lives more clearly.
                 with emotional or behavioral           history and relationships for easy review”        In other words, the genogram process
                 disorders are worse than for any       (Bahr, 1990, p. 244). The first author of         allows students to put their lives and
         other group of students with disabilities      this article constructs genograms with the        families outside of themselves, on paper, to
         in the areas of academic achievement,          students enrolled in her high school              gain a new perspective. In our experience it
         school completion, and adjustment in           program as part of a unit on self-discovery       seems the more the students put relation-
         adult life (Steinberg & Knitzer, 1992).        and vocational interests. In this informal        ships on paper, the more connections they
         Federal data suggest that 42% of               setting, students are relaxed enough to           begin to make among the behaviors,
         students with emotional or behavioral          disclose factors about themselves and their       interests, and vocations of parents and
         disorders drop out of high school, in          families that may highlight potential             grandparents and events in their own lives.
         comparison to 26% of students with             vocational goals and other factors that may
         other disabilities. In addition, in a          be impacting their performance in school.         Benefits of genograms for teachers.
         sample of 800 secondary-level students               The genogram can also be valuable for             Students with emotional or behav-
         with emotional or behavioral disorders,        teachers who are confronted with students         ioral disorders present such an array of
         44% had been involved with the courts          demonstrating complex behaviors and               symptoms, behaviors, and challenges that
         within two years after leaving school          attitudes that seem to serve no useful            it is easy to see the students only in terms
         (Steinberg & Knitzer, 1992).                   function. The information generated in the        of their behavior problems. Bahr (1990)
              These highly depressing statistics have   genogram provides a context for under-            found that constructing genograms with
         prompted many secondary-level teachers         standing some of these behaviors. Special         students has a considerable positive
         to look for techniques that may give           education files are often inadequate and          impact on the teacher by giving a picture
         students with emotional or behavioral          provide little background information             of abuse and disruption that many of
         disorders more insight into their personal     about the student. Occasionally, we have          these students deal with for much, if not
         circumstances, strengths, and interests in     found that the genograms shed light on            all, of their lives. The result is to create
         an attempt to avert these all-too-common       behaviors that are unexplained either in the      increased understanding and empathy for
         outcomes. One strategy that seems to           students’ files or in the immediate context       the students. Furthermore, the genograms
         hold promise for helping students learn        in which they occur.                              cause a shift in teachers’ perceptions.
         more about themselves is having them                 Although little research has been           Rather than showing the students’
         construct genograms. In this article we        conducted on the use of genograms, the            behaviors as negative, the genogram serves
         describe what genograms are and suggest        literature suggests that construction of          to objectify complex and confusing
         how teachers of adolescents with emo-          genograms can provide benefits for the            behaviors and cast them in a different
         tional or behavioral disorders can use         student and for the teacher.                      light. That is, instead of highlighting how
         them. We also provide an example of the                                                          these students have failed to conform to
         genogram constructed by a high school          Benefits of genograms for students.               typical standards of behavior, genograms
         student and the information learned                 Both Bahr (1990) and Okiishi (1987)          show that in may instances they are
         through this process.                          emphasize that setting oneself in a genera-       actually coping with difficult circum-
                                                        tional context underscores the uniqueness         stances at home. Genograms may be
         Why Genograms?                                 of each individual. Thus, constructing a          particularly helpful for general education
              The genogram is a three-generational      genogram taps into that natural narcissism        teachers by increasing their empathy for
         graphic model of the family of origin          of adolescents, who enjoy talking about           students with challenging behaviors when
         (Okiishi, 1987), which provides an             themselves. Additionally, the genogram            they learn what these students often face
         “instant picture of multi-generational         process seems to objectify past and present       in their home lives.
         family structure and functioning, and          events in the home, so that students can
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                                                                   GENOGRAMS



         Using Genograms                                death or divorce (see Figure 1).                  school, managing to keep up with the
               The first author has used genograms           3. Have the students construct their         courses necessary to keep him on track for
         with both at-risk students and students        genograms individually or in a group, but         graduation. According to hospital files,
         identified as having emotional or behav-       under your supervision.                           Dylan comes from a family that seems
         ioral disorders. To begin a unit on self-           4. Interview each student individu-          concerned and likable. However, abuse
         discovery and vocational interests, she asks   ally about his or her finished genogram.          that had never been identified escalated in
         her students to draw genograms (see            Focus the discussion on the goals you set         his junior year, and Dylan was removed
         directions below). Then the class begins       up for the exercise.                              from his home with custody awarded to
         sharing about the individuals represented.          5. Be prepared to spend time with            his maternal grandparents.
         The focus of the discussion is on their        students who feel the need to talk in more              In the process of constructing his
         family members’ careers, abilities, and        depth about the information and relation-         genogram (Figure 2) Dylan revealed that
         strengths. The students like hearing good      ships represented on the genogram. It is          his natural father was an alcoholic, who
         things about their relatives, and as a         important to stress that students can learn       dropped Dylan on his head on concrete a
         matter of course the negatives come out as     from their genograms — family history,            number of times before Dylan was 3 years
         well (e.g., criminal records, divorce,         individuals’ strengths, similarities and          old. His mother’s second husband
         domestic abuse).                               differences. It is also important to stress       emotionally abused Dylan, banishing him
               Next, the class talks about the          that they do not have to repeat destructive       to his room for extended periods of time,
         students’ own strengths and interests,         patterns but can learn to make helpful,           and berating, bullying or ridiculing him.
         comparing them to their family members’        healthy choices in their own lives.               It also became clear from his genogram
         vocations and talents. The goal is to               6. Be prepared to deal with highly           that Dylan’s grandparents were “explosive”
         emphasize and build on students’               sensitive content. Have a plan and know           and had been so unsuccessful at parenting
         strengths and abilities so that they can       who to contact in case current abuse              their own children that all their children
         eventually channel them into marketable        patterns are revealed.                            had long since severed relations with
         skills and career paths. These discussions                                                       them. Unfortunately, this information
         typically reveal several outstanding           Example of Using Genograms                        only came to light two months after these
         creative, artistic, or intellectual family          The impact of genograms on teachers          grandparents had been awarded custody
         strengths that have been inherited by          and students can be illustrated by an             of Dylan by the court. The grandparents
         students. The information from the             example developed by a high school                browbeat Dylan and threatened to turn
         genograms adds to the information              student, Dylan, who is identified as              him over to the state. As a result, Dylan’s
         collected through interest and ability         having emotional and behavioral disor-            hallucinations got worse, as did his erratic
         inventories, and is useful for setting goals   ders. The genogram represented in Figure          and unpredictable behavior. Dylan was
         and completing future planning with            2 shows not only the student’s family             again hospitalized.
         students. At times the discussion turns to     constellations but also the facts about his             Dylan really enjoyed constructing his
         how to avoid unproductive family               family that he found significant or               genogram, and he and his teacher gained
         patterns revealed in the genogram.             interesting. We will profile Dylan and            several important insights from it. First,
               In developing plans for use of           describe what was learned by both the             Dylan took his genogram back to his
         genograms, we recommend the following          teacher and the student through the               roots in the Paiute tribe and was under-
         steps:                                         process of constructing the genogram.             standably proud of this heritage. As a
               1. Decide on goals for the                    Dylan is 17 years old, and has               result, his work in art class and in graphic
         genogram project. What information do          impulsive, erratic behavior. He has been          arts began to explore more Native
         you hope to elicit? What questions will        diagnosed as manic-depressive and, more           American themes and motifs.
         you ask? For example, you may focus on         recently, as having attention deficit                   Second, through the genogram
         careers of various family members,             disorder. He is also subject to auditory          process Dylan shared, seemingly for the
         interests or talents that seem to run in the   and visual hallucinations, which are              first time, the abuse he had lived through.
         family, or even physical traits of family      aggravated by stress or anxiety. Dylan’s          It became clear both to him and his
         members such as height or eye color.           confidential file reveals that he has a long      teacher why he had been so incorrigible
               2. Clearly demonstrate to the            history of incorrigible behavior, including       and why he had run away from home so
         students the mechanics of drawing a            incidents of running away from home               many times. In part due to his interac-
         genogram. A template can be prepared           several times. As a result, he has been           tions with the teacher around this subject,
         ahead of time for the students to add to.      referred to the courts and put on proba-          Dylan’s stature seemed to increase in his
         Have them fill in the family members’          tion. He has also been hospitalized and           own eyes, as he began to see himself as
         names in the appropriate spaces, add           heavily medicated in an attempt to bring          courageous and a survivor for having lived
         siblings and other relatives, and indicate     his behavior under control. In spite of this      through his difficulties and still managed
         the necessary symbols for marriage, birth,     behavior, he has been fairly successful in        to come to school and hold down a job.

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                                                                  GENOGRAMS                                                              BeyondBehavior


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              Third, some of his behaviors could be        Figure 1. Template for constructing a genogram.
         better understood within the context of
         the possible traumatic brain injury he
         sustained before the age of 3. This was
         very valuable information for Dylan’s
         general education teachers. For example,
         it became clear that one result of these
         injuries was that when Dylan felt threat-
         ened, he compensated by making bizarre
         noises in class.
              The information disclosed by the
         genogram about Dylan’s family constella-
         tion was shared with mental health
         professionals. Unfortunately, however, it
         was not considered later in the school year
         when Dylan was removed from his
         grandparents’ home and placed in
                                                       their families in what may be very difficult           Okiishi, R.W. (1987). The genogram as
         residential treatment by his psychiatrist.
                                                       and painful circumstances. In brief, it           a tool in career counseling. Journal of
         Despite this hospitalization experience,
                                                       allows students to look for strengths and         Counseling and Development, 66, 139-143.
         upon his release, Dylan returned to high
                                                       to objectify feelings and relationships,               Steinberg, Z., & Knitzer, 1 (1992).
         school and completed his senior year,
                                                       getting them down on paper where they             Classrooms for emotionally and
         graduating with his class.
                                                       can be seen, rather remaining in an               behaviorally disturbed students: Facing
                                                       unclear, semiconscious stew.                      the challenge. Behavioral Disorders, 17,
         Conclusion
              For students with emotional and                                                            145-156.
                                                        REFERENCES
         behavioral disorders, the schools can be
                                                             Bahr, K. S. (1990). Student responses
         either fertile ground for developing self-
                                                        to genogram and family chronology. Family
         esteem and self-awareness, or they can be
                                                        Life Education, 39, 243-249.
         one more setting in
         which the students fail
         to conform or to                         Figure 2. Dylan’s genogram shows an extensive family of half-siblings, some of
         succeed. When these                 whom he does not know. Dylan was interested in the ethnic background of his
         students are seen as total          family. He discussed the estranged relationships between his maternal grandmother
         individuals, rather than            and her husband and their children (Dylan’s mother, aunt and uncle).
         just sets of troubling
         behaviors, it becomes
         clear that interventions
         cannot succeed without
         attending to the
         students’ emotional
         well-being as well as
         their behaviors. The
         genogram process is one
         more tool teachers can
         use to increase their
         insight into what is
         happening in students’
         emotional lives. The
         genogram also provides
         students with a way to
         see themselves and their
         families in a more
         detached manner, rather
         than enmeshed with

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         standing up & speaking out
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         A Surrogate Parent’s View of Special Education Services
         SUSAN GURGANUS
         COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA


         A       bstract
              This article, written in the first person, relates the experiences of a volunteer surrogate parent serving a student with learning
         and emotional disabilities. Detailed descriptions of four events are presented: a reevaluation, an annual IEP meeting, a residential
         change of placement, and a crisis at school. The author concludes with six lessons based on her experience. This article should
         provoke discussion of appropriate advocacy on behalf of students without active parents; the role of the surrogate parent; implemen-
         tation of federal regulations dealing with evaluation, IEPs, and appropriate services; and coordination of school services with those
         of outside agencies.
               I received my first assignment as a                                                          The surrogate parent cannot have interests
         surrogate parent in August 1994 after             The surrogate parent represents the              that conflict with the interests of the child
         volunteering with a local school district.                                                         and should have skills to represent the
         One of the special education consultants          child in all matters relating to the             child adequately. The surrogate parent
         called me to ask if I would represent a 12-       identification, evaluation, and                  represents the child in all matters relating
         year-old African-American male with a                                                              to the identification, evaluation, and
         learning disability who was a ward of the         educational placement of the child,              educational placement of the child, and
         county. He was a patient in a local                                                                the provision of a free, appropriate public
         residential mental health facility and            and the provision of a free, appropri-           education. A foster parent may represent
         would soon be due for a special education         ate public education.                            his or her child if the LEA decides there is
         reevaluation. It seemed that the local                                                             not conflict of interest and the foster
         school district provided some level of                                                             parent is capable (ERIC, 1980).
         special education in the residential                                                                    No data are reported on how many
         setting, although I was not sure of its       time to write about these experiences;               surrogate parents serve students under
         nature or extent.                             however, I found that the lessons I learned          IDEA but we can assume the number is
               I agreed to serve and a form letter     and the impact they had on my students               growing by examining demographic
         arrived the next week that identified my      during class discussion were important               trends of children and families. For
         student as Wintell Smith.* Enclosed was       and compelling.                                      example, between 1970 and 1990, the
         a list of surrogate parents’ rights and                                                            number of children under the age of 18
         responsibilities, a three-page surrogate      Background                                           living with neither parent increased from
         parent handbook, and a form for me to              The first questions my students ask             2.5 million to 6 million (Ross, 1979; U.S.
         sign and return. I called the number          when I tell them I serve as a surrogate              Department of Commerce, 1992).
         provided on the form and asked how I          parent are, “What is a surrogate parent?”            Further, of these, the number of children
         could gain access to my student’s records.    and “What is your relationship to the                in foster care increased from 280,000 in
         A secretary gave me directions to the         student?” The answers are as follows.                1986 to approximately 440,000 in 1992,
         district office where permanent student       According to the Individuals with                    an increase of 57% in six years
         files were stored.                            Disabilities Act (IDEA), an individual is            (Gustavsson & Segal, 1994). Finally,
               Thus began my tenure as a surrogate     assigned by the school district to act as a          some estimates suggest that the prevalence
         parent. I originally volunteered for two      surrogate for the parents of a child when            of disabilities among children in the
         reasons—it would fulfill part of the          the parents or guardian are not known,               welfare system is double that of the
         community service requirements of my          are unavailable, or the child is a ward of           regular school-age population (Hill,
         job and allow me an alternative perspec-      the state. The surrogate parent cannot be            Hayden, Lakin, Menke, & Amado,
         tive on the special education system. (I      an employee of an agency that is involved            1990).
         had already been a teacher and a state-       in the education or care of the child,
         level consultant and was now a professor      precluding anyone serving in this capacity           Experiences
         in a special education teacher-training       who is employed by the public schools,                    I have selected four events to relate in
         program.) It was not my intention at the      residential facility, or child welfare agency.       this article. There is not enough space to

        30     BEYOND BEHAVIOR                                                                                                       * Fictitious Name


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