Genograms in social work practice

Genograms in social work practice

Somsak Nakhalajarn MSW., LSW.

Faculty of Social Work and Social Welfare

Huachiew Chalermprakiet University

28 April 2024


จีโนแกรมคือการแสดงภาพความสัมพันธ์และประวัติทางการแพทย์ของบุคคลหนึ่งในครอบครัวผ่านช่วงเวลาหลายรุ่น ใช้สำหรับวิเคราะห์รูปแบบทางพันธุกรรมและปัจจัยทางจิตวิทยาที่มีผลต่อความสัมพันธ์ภายในครอบครัว และช่วยติดตามรูปแบบโรคจิตเวช การใช้สารเสพติด และโรคเรื้อรัง จีโนแกรมมีประโยชน์อย่างยิ่งในการวางแผนการรักษาและการแทรกแซงทางสังคมสงเคราะห์ เพราะช่วยในการคาดการณ์ลักษณะทางพันธุกรรมและความเสี่ยงด้านสุขภาพ

จีโนแกรมถูกนำมาใช้ในหลายสาขาวิชา เช่น การแพทย์ จิตวิทยา การวิจัยทางพันธุกรรม รวมทั้งงานสังคมสงเคราะห์ จีโนแกรมเป็นเครื่องมือที่มีประโยชน์ในการเข้าใจพลวัตระหว่างบุคคลในครอบครัวและการพยากรณ์โรคทางพันธุกรรม นอกจากนี้ยังเป็นส่วนสำคัญในการรักษาและการประเมินผลในทางจิตวิทยาและการสังคมสงเคราะห์ โดยให้ภาพรวมระบบครอบครัวที่ซับซ้อนให้เข้าใจได้ชัดเจนง่ายขึ้น

นอกจากนี้ ยังมีซอฟต์แวร์จีโนแกรมหลายตัวที่ออกแบบมาเพื่อการสร้างและการวิเคราะห์จีโนแกรม ซึ่งมีตั้งแต่ตัวที่เหมาะสำหรับผู้เริ่มต้นจนถึงมืออาชีพที่ต้องการความละเอียดและฟังก์ชันการวิเคราะห์ที่ซับซ้อน ซอฟต์แวร์เหล่านี้ช่วยให้สามารถสร้างจีโนแกรมที่มีคุณภาพและใช้งานได้จริงในการวิเคราะห์ทางจิตวิทยาและการแพทย์

What is a Genogram?

A genogram is a graphical representation of a person’s family relationships and medical history over several generations. Like a family tree, it goes beyond basic ancestry to display hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships. It can show the complex interactions between family members and helps to track genetic and psychological patterns, such as mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic illnesses.

Genograms are widely used in fields like medicine, psychiatry, social work, and genetic research. They provide a useful tool for understanding family dynamics and predicting health predispositions, making them valuable for both healthcare professionals and anyone interested in their family history.


What Is a Genogram in Social Work?

A genogram is a graphical representation of a person’s family relationships and medical history over multiple generations. In social work, genograms are used as a diagnostic tool to understand family dynamics, identify patterns, and recognize relationships that may influence a client’s behavior or emotional well-being.

Here are some key aspects of genograms in social work:

1.     Family Relationships: Genograms illustrate the connections between family members, showing how individuals are related and the quality of their relationships, such as close, strained, or estranged connections.

2.     Patterns and Trends: They help social workers and therapists identify patterns of behavior or illness, like mental health issues, substance abuse, or domestic violence, across generations.

3.     Communication and Conflict: Genograms can reveal areas of conflict or breakdown in communication within a family, which may be crucial for addressing certain social or psychological issues.

4.     Medical and Psychological History: They can also include information on medical issues, psychological conditions, and significant life events like marriages, divorces, and deaths, providing a comprehensive view of the family’s history.

Overall, genograms are valuable for providing a visual and easy-to-understand overview of complex family systems, which can be crucial in planning interventions and therapy in social work.


Genograms: Theories background

Genograms are graphical representations of family systems, illustrating family relationships, patterns, and medical histories over multiple generations. They are widely used in fields such as psychology, social work, genetic research, and medicine to gain insights into client backgrounds and dynamics. The theoretical background of genograms encompasses several key areas:

1.     Systems Theory: This theory is foundational to the use of genograms. Systems theory posits that individuals cannot be fully understood in isolation from their family systems, as families operate as complex, interconnected systems. The genogram helps practitioners visualize and analyze these relationships and interactions.

2.     Family Systems Theory: This theory, pioneered by Murray Bowen, suggests that families operate as systems rather than as collections of independent individuals. Genograms are a tool in this approach to visualize complex family interactions and identify patterns that recur across generations, such as communication styles, conflicts, and alliances.

3.     Psychodynamic Theory: Genograms also draw on psychodynamic concepts, particularly those related to family dynamics and the intergenerational transmission of behaviors, traumas, and emotional patterns. By mapping out relationships and noting patterns such as conflicts or alliances, therapists can explore underlying psychological factors and family roles.

4.     Attachment Theory: This theory can be applied in the analysis of genograms to understand attachment styles within the family. Secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachments can significantly influence family interactions and individual behaviors, which can be traced through a genogram.

5.     Social Learning Theory: This theory emphasizes the role of learning through observation within a family context. Genograms can illustrate these learning patterns, including the replication of behaviors across generations, such as coping mechanisms or relational patterns.

6.     Ecological Systems Theory: While primarily concerned with broader social contexts (such as community and societal influences), this theory can also be integrated into genogram analysis to consider external factors impacting the family system.

7.     Social Constructionism: This approach focuses on how individuals and groups construct their perceptions of the world through social interactions. Genograms can be used to explore how family narratives and roles are constructed and understood within the family system.

8.     Narrative Therapy: In narrative therapy, the focus is on the stories that individuals create about their lives. Genograms can help clients and therapists identify and analyze these narratives, particularly how they relate to family roles, conflicts, and alliances.


Genograms are not only a tool for displaying information but also a method for engaging clients in the therapeutic process. They facilitate discussions about family relationships, health issues, and psychological factors, helping both clients and therapists understand the broader context of personal issues.

Genogram Software

There are several software tools available that are specifically designed for creating and analyzing genograms. These tools often come with features that allow for detailed family mapping, including complex relationships and health histories. Here’s a list of popular genogram software options:

1.     GenoPro: This is a widely used genogram software that offers detailed components for mapping family trees and psychological relationships. It includes symbols for a vast range of life events and health conditions, making it suitable for professional psychological analysis.

2.     Progeny Genogram Software: Progeny provides powerful tools for creating detailed genograms with a focus on medical and genetic information. It’s particularly useful for healthcare professionals who need to track hereditary diseases and conditions.

3.     Family Echo: This web-based tool allows for free creation of family trees and genograms. While it might not have the depth of psychological analysis features as some other tools, it is very accessible for beginners and useful for basic genogram creation.

4.     SmartDraw: Known for its diagramming capabilities, SmartDraw includes templates and features for creating professional-quality genograms. It is user-friendly and integrates well with other office tools, making it a good choice for professionals in various fields.

5. While primarily used for genealogical research, can also be employed to create genograms by using its detailed family tree features. This can be particularly useful for exploring historical family data and patterns over long periods.

6.     MyHeritage: Like, MyHeritage offers tools for building family trees which can be adapted into genogram use, especially for genetic and hereditary analysis.

7.     Visual Paradigm Online: Offers a simple online platform for creating various diagrams, including genograms. It’s suitable for quick and straightforward genogram designs without the need for software installation.

These software tools cater to different needs, from detailed psychological assessments to simple family relationship mappings. Depending on the specific requirements of your practice or personal interest, you can choose a software that best fits your needs in terms of complexity, usability, and focus areas (e.g., psychological, medical, or genealogical).



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