Why Use Genograms?

Genograms are useful assessment tools that foster clients’ understanding of historical family patterns that might impact current behaviors, relationships, and functioning. From a social work perspective, individuals are embedded within many different systems that impact their lives, and the genogram emphasizes this systems theoretical perspective with a focus on the family. The family is perhaps the most important and universal system with which clients interact. Family systems influence an individual’s behavior, attitude, belief system, and cultural identity from one’s earliest days, and they play an important role in shaping one’s roles and relationships in society.

Use As An Assessment Tool

As an assessment tool, the genogram allows client and clinician to examine family structure in detail, and capture clinically-relevant information related to the quality and characterization of relationships. After capturing this information together, client and clinician can explore the ways in which family processes play out across generations.

The genogram can also be used as an intervention tool. Research has found that the act of creating the genogram itself has therapeutic benefits for clients. Further, genograms assist clinicians in understanding the origins of client behaviors and the sources of presenting problems. This information guides clinicians to effective intervention recommendations that are based in a client’s family system.

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