The goals of this project are for students to learn to complete a genogram as a tool for assessment and intervention with families, and to apply one of the main theories from this course to the family in your genogram. Note this is an analysis/assessment assignment, not a reflection paper.
You will find some useful guides and templates at the following sites:
Free Download Editable Genogram Examples. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.edrawsoft.com/genogram/genogram-examples.php
Standard Genogram Symbols – Genogram Analytics. (2008). Retrieved from https://www.genogramanalytics.com/genogram_symbols.html
The Genogram Project is a typical assignment for students in a family/couples training program. The goals of this project are for you to learn to complete a genogram as a tool for assessment and intervention with families, and to gain practice in applying one of the main theories of this course to a family. Note that finding strengths is as important as weaknesses, so it is not necessary to have complex family history in order to use your own family experiences for this assignment.
It can be helpful to complete the genogram on your own family (without using full names – in fact, pseudonyms are just fine) because this will give you greater insight into how this process feels for clients in therapy, as well as providing you with an opportunity to analyze your own family’s structure. However, it is not required that you use your own family. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable using yourself as the “index person” for the genogram, you may choose to construct the genogram on someone else’s family, one that you know sufficiently well to complete the genogram.
If you do choose to complete the genogram based on someone different from yourself, please note that you will NOT be penalized in any way, and your marks will not be lowered. The only down-side of this approach is that you do not have the opportunity to explore how your own ideas about families may stem from your own family-of-origin experiences, and you do not have the benefit of personally experiencing how powerful a tool the genogram can be.
If you choose to complete the genogram based on yourself and your own family, do please remember that you should not reveal any information that you do not feel comfortable disclosing. You are free to make responsible choices about how much you disclose in this project, and you should feel free to change, omit, or add information so as to conceal anything you choose.
This assignment has two parts, the Genogram Drawing and the Written Narrative. The body of your Written Narrative paper (not including title page, references, etc.) should be 10-15 typed, double-spaced pages. Please do not exceed 15 pages of text, as there is only one of me, and there are many of you!
Genogram Project – Part 1: Genogram Drawing
The genogram drawing should include:
A minimum of two previous generations. This means the genogram must have at least three generations: The index person (in most cases, yourself), the index person’s parents, and their grandparents. If the index person has children and grandchildren, they too should be included. If the index person is married or in a significant relationship, the significant other and his/her immediate family (his/her parents, siblings, any former marriages, and any children) should also be included.
It is OK to leave out parents’ and grandparents’ siblings (the index person’s aunts/uncles and great-aunts/uncles), due to limitations of space. However, if there is a particularly important aunt/uncle in the index person’s life (e.g., they were mainly reared by that person), that aunt/uncle should be included.
Symbols, as illustrated in Figure 8.3 of the Goldenberg and Goldenberg textbook, to indicate the nature of the relationships among family members. You may use some or all of these symbols. Be sure to draw a double circle/square to represent the index person (as shown in Figure 8.4; “Ivan” is the index person for that genogram).
For more help with creating your Genogram Drawings, check out the websites previously listed.
You may notice that there are some universals, such as squares for males and circles for females; you may also notice some idiosyncrasies, such as different adaptations for transgender persons – almost all involve a triangle, but it varies a bit (some use one symbol for all LGBTQQIA issues, other systems differentiate).
Examples include “John – father – distant relationship, alcoholism” or “Mary – mother – immigrated to Canada, 1965.” You may wish to call, write, or interview other family members to obtain the information necessary to complete this assignment; however, this is entirely optional.
Drawings with no additional notes will not be graded as highly; showing relevant information next to the people or relationships they refer to is part of what makes this visual depiction of a family system so powerful. However, it is also important to be selective – choose to represent the information that you think is most important/influential in the index person’s development. The ideal genogram is not so cluttered with information that no patterns in the family system can be discerned.
Remember to place each generation on more or less the same level, horizontally. All members of the parents’ generation should be on the same level as one another, a tier above the index person’s generation; and all members of the grandparents’ generation should be on the same level as one another, horizontally, one tier above the parents’ generation, at the top of the page.
Genogram Project Part 2: Analysis
Based on your Genogram Drawing, write a paper about your interpretation following the outline below (the body of your paper, not including title page, etc., should be 10-15 typed, double-spaced pages):
Section 1: Background. Briefly describe the family in narrative form, beginning with the index person (if you are the index person, please use the first person “I”). Discuss the cultural and socioeconomic issues facing the family, major events or turning points that affected the family, and any other factors that might be useful in understanding the present-day situation for the index person.
Section 2: Analysis. Discuss your analysis of the genogram. In particular:
What intergenerational patterns, dynamics, and/or themes have you identified that influence you (or the index person) or others in the family? This analysis should be seen through the lens of one of the major theories covered in this course (e.g., Bowen’s 8 interlocking ideas or Minuchin’s structural theory). Connect each pattern/dynamic you identify to this theory, and to specific concepts from within that theory.
How have cultural factors in this family affected the index person and the family system as a whole? How has this been similar or different, across different generations?
Note that this section of the paper is really the heart of the written genogram analysis.
In Section 1, just provide enough of the story to support and expand upon your observations in Section 2. Section 2 is really the main focal point of the assignment, as it is the section where you analyze patterns and tie these to a major theory from the course.
Highlight analysis over self-reflection.
Support your analysis with appropriate literature and evidence (properly cited using APA format).
Section 3: Reflection. Discuss your reflections on the process of completing this assignment. What did it mean to you? What did you learn?
Writing quality, including grammar and spelling, WILL count toward the final grade. Therefore, proofreading is strongly encouraged.
Many students who complete a personal genogram are emotionally affected by this experience. Although it is a good learning exercise, it can also trigger thoughts and feelings which may be unexpected or difficult. Please feel free to message/email me privately in the process of completing this assignment if you need further clarification or to discuss your experience in doing this project. Messages will be responded to within 24 hours.
Keep in mind that this is not a personal therapy paper, so although you may experience some emotional reactions and express them to the professor via messages, the content of the paper itself should be focused on your analysis of the genogram, connecting this with course concepts and theories.
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