The Genogram Casebook: A Clinical Companion to Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, by Monica McGoldrick, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY, ISBN: 978-0-393-70907-0 (pbk.), 2016, 304 pages, $32 USA/$42 CAN.
Genograms are essential tools for social workers. Both new and experienced social workers will find The Genogram Casebook: A Clinical Companion to Genograms: Assessment and Intervention helpful for understanding the application of genograms in practice. The text is authored by Monica McGoldrick and serves as a companion casebook to her previous work. This casebook transitions clinicians from theory to practical applications of genograms.
Social workers will benefit from McGoldrick’s early chapters reviewing the clinical use of genograms, engaging clients through genograms, and the value of genograms for assessment. Experienced practitioners may be inclined to skip ahead, but regardless of your level of expertise, don’t miss out on this content. Case scenarios and dialogues provide rich illustration of concept applications with multiple layers for exploration. McGoldrick’s conversational style challenges and consoles new social workers in her honest assessment of uncertainty and success. Experienced clinicians will find depth and complexity to concept applications to cases. McGoldrick’s warm and engaging writing style has an air of clinical supervision, with both an educational and supportive flavor. McGoldrick’s words flow like a mentor’s wise guidance.
Drawing frequently from the work of Murray Bowen, McGoldrick addresses core issues that arise in exploring genograms with clients. Resistance, fusion, cutoff, and triangles/de-triangulation are explored in depth. I appreciated the examples of tuning in to potential resistance while assessing client systems through genograms. McGoldrick also includes examples in which therapist and client identity (gender, race, ethnicity, or religion) can intersect with client resistance and triangulation. She reflects on the case approaches identifying what was and was not working in the therapeutic process. McGoldrick offers guidance on the use of genograms with families facing loss, in couples work, and with families with children. Particularly helpful are the chapters examining adult sibling relationships and the therapist’s own family experience. These invite self-reflection and ongoing self-awareness, useful tools for work with students and reminders for advanced clinicians who may find themselves “stuck” on a case.
I liked the readability and clarity of the text. Brief dialogue excerpts highlighted key interactions succinctly. These excerpts were concise and to the point without dragging on for pages. Illustrations of a family’s genogram accompanied case examples to link client content with actual genogram representation. Questions provided at the end of chapters posed starting points for personal reflection and discussions in professional reading groups, supervision, or the classroom.
The Genogram Casebook: A Clinical Companion to Genograms: Assessment and Intervention provides a clear, readable and relevant resource. Clinicians and social work educators will find this text relevant, as it builds on core genogram concepts while providing context for the application of their use with clients.
Reviewed by Claire L. Dente, Ph.D., MSW, LCSW, Associate Professor of Social Work, West Chester University of Pennsylvania.