Genograms in Family Therapy

Young serious and concentrted woman listening to her counselor while sitting on couch during consultation

Many things are passed down between generations, from physical characteristics to personality traits. A baby girl may be born with the same eye color as her father, or a boy may grow up to be extremely intelligent like his mother. Many of these traits can be very positive, but others can have a negative impact on individuals and families as a whole. It is possible, for instance, that people can be genetically predisposed to developing conditions like addiction or depression.

Genograms provide a way for medical and mental health professionals to analyze potentially harmful patterns in family relationships, but at the same time, they also allow participants to recognize the strength that they possess in many ways.

What Is A Genogram?

A genogram is somewhat similar to a family tree but serves a completely different purpose. Initially developed as a therapeutic tool by the psychiatrist who created Bowenian Family Therapy (Murray Bowen), genograms use visual symbols to represent gender, psychical or mental health diagnoses, and connections among family members.

For example, gender is usually represented by circles and squares. Relationships between family members are typically marked with a line. Additional symbols are used to represent any diagnoses so that physical or  mental health professionals can identify any genetic predispositions to various diseases.

Genograms are regularly used in medical and mental health settings to assist psychiatrists and other medical specialists in mapping out family histories and gaining information about relationships. Many therapists use genograms to help their clients recognize trangenerational patterns and understand where certain behaviors or thoughts may come from.

Are Genograms Used in Family Therapy?

A genogram can be used in almost any type of therapy, like individual therapy or couples therapy. However, they are most common among different types of family therapy like structural family therapy or family systems therapy. This is due to the fact that genograms are used to help individuals understand certain behaviors and relationships. This may be easier with other members of the family in the room to share their perspective.

On the other hand, it can sometimes be tricky to utilize genograms in family therapy because family members may see their relationships very differently from one another. But at the end of the day, those different viewpoints may give the therapist a lot of valuable information about the family as a whole as well as each individual member.

Beginning the Family Therapy Process

Genograms are able to visually show clients that they are the experts in their own lives and they have total control over where they will end up. It can help individuals take power back in relationships and feel a sense of newfound confidence that they may not have had before. By going to therapy and making genograms together, family members can work on setting the foundation for addressing their weaknesses and embracing their strengths. When used in a family setting, genograms allow family members to understand why their relatives may act or think the way they do. This opens a door for more effective communication and, hopefully, stronger and healthier relationships.

To learn more about genograms and other strategies used in family therapy, contact our team of mental health treatment representatives at Elium Health today by calling 866-552-3758 or ema


Get Started Now

Contact Elium Health today for In-Person and Telehealth Appointments.