Genograms can be a useful tool for putting flesh on the bones of ancestors. Genograms were developed by sociologists as a way of showing various dynamics of family units. They are graphical representations of family trees, showing information about the people and their relationships, both kinship and emotional, over three to five generations. They are like a cross between a pedigree chart and a drop-line chart. Using symbols, genograms can show a huge amount of family information on one page. They can show kinship relationships and emotional relationships between family members, illnesses, immigration, family secrets, substance abuse, and other concepts.
Genograms were first developed and popularized in clinical settings by Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson through the publication of a book titled Genograms: Assessment and Intervention in 1985. Genograms are now used by various groups of people in a variety of fields such as genealogy, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, social work, genetic research, education, and many more. Some practitioners in personal and family therapy use genograms for personal records and/ or to explain family dynamics to the client. Few if any genealogists currently use them, but they do offer an interesting tool for family research.
Genograms contain a wealth of information on the families represented. First, they contain basic data found in family trees such as the name, gender, date of birth, and date of death of each individual. Additional data may include education, occupation, major life events, chronic illnesses, social behaviors, nature of family relationships, emotional relationships, and social relationships. Some genograms also include information on disorders running in the family such as alcoholism, depression, diseases, alliances, and living situations. Genograms can vary significantly because there is no limitation as to what type of data can be included.
- DeMaria, Rita, Gerald R. Weeks, and Larry Hof. Focused
Genograms: Intergenerational Assessment of Individuals, Couples,
and Families. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel, 1999.
Genopro, software for genograms.
Introduction to Genograms.
- Jacobs, Amy. Genograms Making Sense of the Family Tree /
[by] Amy Jacobs. Ursuline College faculty forum series.
- Leclerc, Michael. Charting Your Family's Medical Legacy
Creating Genograms. NGS conference in the states, W-23.
Hobart, Ind: Repeat Performance, 2001.
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Personality, Career, and Love Patterns You Inherit. Chicago:
Contemporary Books, 1989.
- Mcgoldrick Monica. Genograms: Assessment and
Intervention. 3rd edition. New York: W W Norton & Co , Inc,
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[S.l.]: W W Norton & Co , Inc, 1985.
- McGoldrick, Monica. You Can Go Home Again: Reconnecting
with Your Family. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1995.
- Rigazio-DiGilio, Sandra A. Community Genograms: Using Individual, Family, and Cultural Narratives with Clients. Multicultural foundations of psychology and counseling. New York: Teachers College Press, 2005.