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What is the Definition of Genogram?

> Basic Diagram Knowledge > What is the Definition of Genogram?
Posted by James Freeman | 02/11/2020
Genogram definition is a graphic representation of the personalities and interplay of generations within a family.

What is a genogram? Genogram is a diagram outlining the history of the behavior patterns (as of divorce, abortion, or suicide) of a family over several generations and it is also a diagram detailing the medical history of a family in order to assess a family member's risk of developing disease.

Medical Genogram Example

Genogram Definition

A genogram (also known as a pedigree chart or a family diagram) is a pictorial display of a person's family relationships, medical conditions and age and cause of death. It goes beyond a traditional family tree& by allowing the users to visualize hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships. It can be used to identify repetitive patterns of behavior and to recognize hereditary tendencies.

Purpose of Genogram

A genogram is a multi-generational diagram of a person’s family and social network.

  • It allows users to view multiple relationship dynamics, review developmental influence and identify trends.
  • For medical professionals, genograms can help them with identifying medical risk factors.
  • Psychologists use genogram to assist individuals and couples in therapy and counsel.

Edraw Max - a Powerful Genogram Software

  • Effortlessly create a variety of genograms.
  • Provide various templates and symbols to match your needs.
  • Drag and drop interface and easy to use
  • Customize every detail by using smart and dynamic toolkits
  • Compatible with a variety of file formats, such as MS Office, Visio, PDF, etc.
  • Quick to export, print and share your diagrams

Rules of Genogram

Creating a genogram with following rules will enable you to create any complex genograms as easy as a pie.

  1. The first rule is always putting the male parent at the left of the family and putting the female parent at the right of the family.
  2. The second rule is in order to avoid ambiguity please assume a male-female relationship, instead of male-male or female-female relationship.
  3. The third rule is a spouse must always be closer to his/her first partner, then the second partner (if any), third partner, and so on.
  4. The last rule is always putting the oldest child at the left his family, the youngest child is always at the right his family.

Symbols of Genogram

Male &Female Symbols

There are many standard symbols in a genogram, usually males are represented by a square while females are represented by a circle. Just like the below pictures shows.

Male &Female Symbols

Children Symbols

There are three types of children: biological/natural child, adopted child, foster child and they are showed differently in a standard genogram as the following pictures shows. A triangle has three meanings: a pregnancy, a miscarriage and an abortion. But there is a a diagonal cross drawn on the top of the triangle to indicate death, in other words, miscarriage. Abortions have one more additional horizontal line based on the miscarriage. A still birth is still represented by the gender symbols while with a diagonal cross drawn and twice smaller than them.

Male &Female Symbols

Multiple Children Symbols

Sometimes there are also multiple births and the child links are joined together to show them such as twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets and more. Identical twins are displayed by an horizontal line between siblings. It will be easier to understand the symbols with below example.

Multiple Children Symbols

Steps to Create Genogram

Watch this video to quickly know the method to create your exclusive genogram!


Creating a professional genogram is a such an easy thing if you follow below 6 steps.

  1. Step 1. Make sure what you want to know from a genogram.
  2. Step 2. Decide how many generations you want to show on the genogram.
  3. Step 3. Write the family members you already know.
  4. Step 4. Research the history of your family by talking to your family members and searching family documents, even internet.
  5. Step 5. Use standard genogram symbols to represent the family members and relationships.
  6. Step 6. Organize the genogram according to the age order.

Further Reading:

Genogram Software for Mac, Windows and Linux

Standard Genogram Symbols

Free Download Editable Genogram Examples