What is the Definition of Genogram?

Genogram definition is a graphic representation of the personalities and interplay of generations within a family.

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.

Genogram Definition

A genogram (also known as a schematic 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 user 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. It is a great tool for professionals and different professionals use genograms for different purposes. For medical professionals, genograms can help them with identifying medical risk factors. Psychologists use genogram to assist individuals and couples in therapy and counsel.

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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

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.

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