Four Generation Genogram with Written Analysis of Family Trends
In-class draft genogram assignment due: (week 10)
Genogram & paper due: (week 12)
Part of doing a full assessment with a family is identifying the dynamics that run like currents throughout the family’s history. The genogram allows us to understand this by creating a visual representation of the family’s structure, dynamics, and issues.
Another critical feature of doing good social work is to understand the way our own family history has impacted us. This assignment is designed to help you explore your own family influences, while also developing skills for creating and assessing genograms. This is a multi-step process:
Step 1– Throughout the early part of the semester, gather information from your family members about four generations of your family (parents, grandparents, great grandparents; their siblings and their families, etc.). It is understandable that there may be less information about older generations but do your best to get what information you can. More information will help you to see intergenerational patterns.
You will need to gather basic information on the family members, such as names, ages, year of death if deceased, education, occupation, notable characteristics, addictions, etc.
You should also collect information about relationship dynamics (e.g. divorces, relationship styles/ parent –child interactional styles), family stressors, as well as family accomplishments and strengths.
Ethnicity and cultural information is important to include as well. If some family members are immigrants, indicate from what country and the year of immigration. Strengths as well as challenges should be included.
If one has been adopted or in foster care, use the family you identify with most clearly as your family of origin (where you know more of the people and their stories). You will indicate existence of other families as ‘bubbles’ next to the symbol for you. (If you have multiple foster families or other circumstances, feel free to talk with your instructor about how to focus your genogram.)
Although family traumas clearly influence your own interactions with others who have experienced trauma, use your judgment about the level of information you elect to share, recognizing that the instructor and classmates are bound by confidentiality.
Clear structure lines are necessary and a creative key is required. Genopro software is NOT to be used.
Step 2– Genogram draft and peer consultation; Prior to class on ___(week 10), be sure you have completed the readings for that date and use a large piece of paper/ poster board to create a working genogram of your family with at least four generations (people often find butcher block paper or the back of wrapping paper to be useful). Start with the dark structure lines (family structure- children from unions) and then add relationship lines (enmeshed, distant etc.) in colors. Be sure to include appropriate information about each person, as well as relationship lines as described in the readings. Use of color (circling those with alcohol use with purple for example), stickers (flags for military service) or other creative ways of indicating patterns in the family is encouraged and a key explaining the symbols and/or color use should be included. Bring this to class. All of the structure lines and many relationship lines should be included on the genogram brought to class (at minimum).
Step 3– During class, we will work in dyads to help each other recognize themes/trends/dynamics in one another’s genograms. While interviewing one another, try to incorporate new information into the genogram that arises from your discussion. Your sensitive use of questions and help with guiding analysis of your partner’s genogram is expected and confidentiality must be strictly observed. You will only share your information with the partner in class, NOT the whole class.
Step 4– The final “project” is due on____(week 12): It consists of the fully delineated genogram (it should be rich with information) as well as a 7-10 page paper identifying the trends and patterns you have been able to identify in your genogram. If you bring your genogram to class rolled up, put your first name on the outside of the tube. The genogram will be returned to you after grading. An outline of the paper is provided below:
Identification of psychosocial traits and patterns is the main focus of this section. What are the strongest or most prevalent traits and patterns you see? Describe the specific trends and issues depicted in the genogram, such as education attainment, marriage patterns, parent-child relationships, gender issues, ethnicity, religion, traumas, abuse of any sort (e.g. substance or family violence), mental health issues, and any other patterns that emerge.
How do you assess issues related to culture (race, religion, ethnicity, education) that have impacted your family over time?
Utilize concepts from the course and/or other family therapy theories to describe the family’s way of relating, including relationship patterns and intensities (e.g. boundaries, triangles, enmeshment, hierarchy, differentiation and many more). You can also include the impact of oppression and discrimination on the family over time.
Note how vulnerabilities, trauma, and strengths have been transmitted intergenerationally. Analyze how these patterns are likely to affect the current generation and following ones into the future. How might they be perpetuated? How might they be broken? Use of a family therapy theory can be helpful to explain the family dynamics.
Describe the process of working with your partner in identifying trends. Describe your experience, key insights, and your own level of comfort in each role (interviewer/interviewee). Comment on the experience feeling vulnerable and how it might be helpful in your work as a social worker.
Consider how this may be of use as a tool in your practice (or not). How does it fit with the population with whom you hope to work?
Genogram Assignment Grading Rubric (35 points):
5 points Genogram Construction:
Structure lines, relationship lines, clarity, level of relevant detail, creativity with the key
10 points Identification of Family Trends:
Ability to identify and depict patterns in the diagram
10 points Written Analysis of Family Trends/Generational Patterns:
Written analysis of generational patterns, discussion of varied patterns’ impact on the family and how they may influence future generations (and self); (Sections 1-2)
5 points Written Analysis of Experience:
Written analysis of your experience of being interviewed vs. interviewing for the genogram in class; Discussion of use in one’s practice. (Sections 3-4)
5 points Syntax:
Clarity of writing, grammar and following the outline for critical analysis.
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