The Development and Use of Genograms as a Family intervention

Sign up for our 2017 MAMFT In-Home Therapy Symposium on October 20 in Holyoke. This blog post is written by Kristin Broderick, LMFT, a supervisor at The Guidance Center in Somerville.

To a family therapist, genograms are a unique intervention intentionally used in family sessions to elicit themes, patterns, and an overall ‘bigger picture’ perspective of the client and family. In vivo use provides ample opportunity for the therapist to assess, discuss, and observe a family’s process. The intention then, is that exploring multigenerational patterns will allow families to make healthy and more informed choices for their future. Having a visual map to refer back to makes for easy access to remind the family of changes and choices they hope to make throughout the course of treatment.

Having worked in a variety of settings where family therapists are the minority profession, I have come to observe that genograms are being seldom used- as a supervisor’s suggestion, a case presentation, or for the purpose of keeping track of family members names and ages. As a passionate “genogramer,” an underutilized genogram is truly a missed opportunity in the course of treatment.

From a professional standpoint, there is a need for more training opportunities specific to assessment and interventions to use for the family unit. Although the genogram is just one of many useful tools, it can serve as a home base, so to speak, returning to themes and opportunities for change that are elicited through open dialogue. And if all else fails or you lose your way using this tool, just remember there is always a valuable place for a visual learning tool in any therapy session. I believe that the more therapists can get behind the idea of a genogram as an initial tool, and not an afterthought, more opportunities for change and choice within the family unit will be created.

Kristin Broderick is a clinical supervisor at the Guidance Center Family Clinic in Somerville.

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