Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction to Genograms


  • Families are intrinsically healthy
  • Every family has both strengths and vulnerabilities
  • Symptomatic behavior has its origins in protection
  • Families are in constant transition and uncompleted life cycle transitions repeat themselves in families unless understood on a conscious level and resolved


  • A genogram is a multi-generational diagram of a person’s family and social network. It provides a universal graphic language that allows families and professionals working with families to communicate. It can show multiple relationship dynamics, developmental influences and intergenerational family patterns. It can depict both strengths and vulnerabilities. Each person on a genogram is represented by a symbol and a brief description is attached. These person symbols are then linked with lines to depict both structural and emotional relationships. The lines can also depict various dynamics such as level of connection and conflict as well as significant individual qualities. Genograms also show intergenerational affiliations, choices and occupations. They demonstrate times when environmental or socio-economic status influenced personal or family development and functioning and show how events like untimely loss or catastrophic events changed the pathway of individual family members and the family as a whole.

    For therapists and other professionals, tracing intergenerational stories of physical and mental health can be very useful for current management and personal risk along with how to make healthy choices. It can also be helpful to see how occupations or religious affiliations may be influencing the current issues. Genograms give us a window into the past, allowing us to explore intergenerational strengths and vulnerabilities that we can draw on to understand the present and to make informed choices for the future. It allows us to affect our own and our family’s Transitional Pathway, the hypothetical pathway taking us from past through present and into the future.

Chapter 2: Historical and Cultural Context

Upon completion of this section the student will have gained the knowledge of both time line importance and cultural importance when dealing with a family.

Chapter 3: Practicing the Genogram

In this chapter you will practice drawing a genogram from a case study.