A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Exploring the Use of Genograms in Social Work Practice

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Great article

Wonderful reminder of the helpfulness of genograms. Updated with the use of tech

Margaret more than 6 years ago


Dr. Murray Bowen, noted family psychiatrist and the father of family psychotherapy, popularized the use of the family diagram, later called the 'genogram' by others. He was the first psychiatrist to do so in his pioneering studies of families at NIH in the 1950s. In social work, Dr. Ann Hartman spread the idea of what she called the 'genogram' in her 1983 book, Family-Centered Social Work Practice. More recently, Dr. John Butler published an article entitled The Family Diagram and Genogram: Comparison and Contrasts (2008, The American Journal of Family Therapy. Typically, a family diagram minimally entails the family facts of at least 3 or 4 generations (level of education, occupation, functioning in the bio-psycho-social dimension, geography) and pertinent facts such as dates for marriages, divorces, births, geographical moves, etc. It is important to know the roots of these practices. Of course, other authors like Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson have played a part in disseminating the use of the genogram, but not quite in the same manner as utilized by Dr. Bowen and those who employ Bowen theory in their social work practice.

Anthony J. Wilgus more than 7 years ago

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