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Genogram is a map of family relationships and ties. It consists of symbols that denote important events in the life of the family, relationships and kinship between ancestors, as well as the dates of their birth and death. From our ancestors, we inherit not only appearance and character traits, but also behavioral mechanisms and ways of reacting to stressful situations. Creating a genogram is a form of therapeutic family tree that can solve many problems.

Genogram- this foreign-sounding word stands for one of the classic methods used inpsychology , psychotherapy and psychiatry. Today, therapists use it most often as an aid in exploring the problem that the patient is facing: when he is addicted to addiction, he cannot cope with his parents' divorce or he cannot find a partner. You can also use this method with children.

A genogramis a type offamily treethat is drawn together with the therapist. The most important thing in it, however, is to discover not the origin of the family and its roots, but the relationships that have prevailed in it for generations. The genogram is made at least three generations ago - the deeper the better.

Thanks to the disclosure and systematization of these relations, you can get to know yourself in depth. Understand why we behave in one way or another, why we reproduce the mistakes of a mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother. Interestingly, this genogram can be "broken". What does that mean? With it, you can make a change of fate.


  1. Genogram - knowledge about your own family
  2. Genogram - how to make?
  3. Genogram - the influence of the family on a person's life
  4. Genogram - collect information about your family, draw conclusions
  5. The genogram facilitates changes in behavior

Genogram - knowledge about your own family

30-year-old Ewa is an independent, fulfilled woman. He works in a high position and earns good money. Unfortunately, Ewa does not have relationships with men. She falls in love with the wrong ones, she is unable to maintain a relationship, and after the breakup she suffers and becomes even tougher and more cynical, which does not make it easier for her to make new contacts. She would like to have a child, but so far cannot even survive with any man for more than 2 years. She ran away to work that isa source of stress and fatigue. That's why she came to a therapist.

- When I heard about the genogram, I first grabbed my head and refused, she says. It sounded like an iron wolf, a little magical, a little pretentious. But as my problems worsened, after another failed relationship, I decided to give it a try. Make this genogram just out of curiosity. The work lasted over a year. A family map cannot be drawn at once. - It turned out that I really don't know much about my ancestors - explains Ewa.

Genogram - how to make?

To create a genogram, you need to know about your immediate family: not only your parents, grandparents and their relationships. Aunts, cousins ​​and their children are also important.

All people related to us are marked on this specific map in the form of circles (women) and squares (men). The bonds between them are defined by sticks.

It will also include people with whom we do not have blood ties - wives, husbands, concubines and cohabitants, including illegitimate and adopted children.

In addition to kinship, the genogram also shows important events or diseases in the family, e.g. mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, recovery, homosexuality, etc.

Working on this map must take a long time. When drawing a diagram, the therapist talks to the patient about ancestors, family secrets are revealed. If the patient does not know anything about his / her family, he / she should start researching its history.

This is why some people find this method so fascinating. While learning about old stories, we verify our own lives and begin to analyze them in a global sense. Interestingly, we also start to look at our lives as if from the side.

Genogram - the influence of the family on a person's life

The genogram is derived from Murray Bowen's family systems theory. According to him, it is a multi-generational transmission of family patterns. Thanks to this, you can to some extent see what causes certain behaviors and predict some of them.

- Family is a system. And we are part of it - says Dr. Jerzy Popek, psychologist, head of the Genogram Therapeutic Group. Man in his environment can be compared to a stone thrown into water. The circles around it are spreading more and more - this is how we influence our surroundings and vice versa - the environment affects us; we are part of the entire system. We are subject to processes of shaping not only by the family, but also by school, colleagues, colleagues, and finally the entire society that surrounds us.

Dr Popek adds that it is worth exploring, especially todaytheir psychological roots because the family has changed. It is no longer what it was in the eyes of our parents or grandparents. People don't always bond for life. More often than before, they get married or get married many times, and it happens that they live alone by choice.

Multi-generational houses are disappearing, the natural process of separation of children from their parents is different. More and more people work abroad and their children are brought up by their grandparents. It is obvious that such behavior has an impact on the future generation of today's children. And it is the genogram that allows us to see this "family patchwork".

- With time, this method attracted me a lot - says Ewa. - It turned out that I am so strong for a reason. Such were all the women in my family on my mother's side. The men turned out to be weak. I realized that I had been learning these mechanisms since childhood. And that's why I couldn't do otherwise. While these traits worked great in business and elevated me to the position, they were a curse in my love life. What's worse, even though I dreamed of a strong man, I chose the weak and then abandon them. Exactly as the women in my family did.

Ewa's "softening" has started. It was a painful, even terrifying process for her. Over 30 years, Ewa has learned to act "like a guy". Now she had to allow for other methods of conflict resolution, behavior and experiences. - As if I had to learn a new form of femininity - she confesses. By the way, she discovered her psychological roots.

Genogram - collect information about your family, draw conclusions

42-year-old Michał came to a therapist after he was diagnosed with a sarcoma - a bone cancer. At the therapist, Michał was treated for depression.

- Although the doctors promised that I would live for many years after my leg was amputated, I broke down. I didn't want surgery, I wanted to die. My mother sent me to a specialist, she recalls.

The proposal to make the genogram came out "by the way". It turned out then that there were genetic burdens in Michał's family and that both the father and grandfather suffered from other types of cancer. While the father died 3 months after the diagnosis, the grandfather lived with the disease for over 7 years. For Michał, these two pieces of information turned out to be salutary. He got to know the relationships in the life of his grandfather and father, and then realized that his father succumbed to the disease, and that grandfather fought to the end.

- And it was only then that I remembered that grandpa must have been sick when I was little, and he was never grimaced, he was always full of humor and I loved him insanely. I am sure that he was happy to the end, although he had to suffer cruelly - recalls Michał.

When collecting information about the family, the therapist does not focus on describing the appearance of individual people. Important information concerns important dates in the life of family members - divorce, death, separation, but also gender and age.

It is good to include in the genogram information about suicides, addictions, diseases, also mental, school, work and emotional problems.

Ewa noticed, for example, that in her family there were many women with the same name as her, whose life ended tragically. Her grandmother died during the war, and one of her aunts committed suicide.

- First it scared me, then I started to draw conclusions. And I thought that it is worth changing in order not to end up like them. After all, when my life started to crumble, I felt like swallowing some pills a few times. I realized that nothing happens without a reason. There was no turning back, everything started to change, as if apart from me. As if I had started some process that I couldn't stop. This resolve was so strong internally that it quickly became evident on the outside.

Ewa softened, she started dressing differently. She stopped wearing high heels, changed suits for less formal attire. Increasingly, she refused to work overtime, bought herself a dog.

Ewa's change was first noticed by her family and not so easily accepted her new image. The brother and sister whom Ewa had been giving money to so far couldn't understand when she refused them another non-refundable loan and said that she needed help herself.

Parents were concerned about her mental he alth. So far, she has supported everyone and has never asked for anything. She was brave, tough and lonely. After a temporary rebellion, the family was forced to accept the new Eve, and she herself met a man. This relationship was different from the beginning. She stopped fighting for leadership and allowed herself to be a woman.

The genogram facilitates changes in behavior

Creating a genogram is only the beginning, then there is a rebuilding of one's own behavior and attitudes. - It turned out that my new behavior allowed Tom to be a 100% man: he looks after me, he cares for me - explains Ewa. - I haven't experienced this in previous relationships.

Amazing things started to happen in her life.

- For example, my ex-boyfriend spoke up and we met to chat. I realized that it was my fault that our relationship broke up. He already had a wife and two children. We couldn't and didn't want to be together again. However, it made me think that the fault was in me, and not the world wanted to experience me, ruining my relationship - he says.And she adds that she believes that now that she has changed, fate has given her a suitable man with whom she wants to start a family. - Before, I vetoed it without knowing it - he sums up.

Michał underwent surgery thanks to the genogram, he believed that there was a chance for him. He believed and he fought. He started exercising intensively. He even took part in the marathon of the disabled. - It's unbelievable, but I met a woman after my leg was amputated. I was on vacation because I was trying to live my life so far. I was wearing pants and the prosthesis is really high quality and was not visible at first. Ania fell in love with me, although a few days later, from the first meeting, I told her that I was an invalid. We are together until today. If not for my grandfather, not his role model, heroic attitude, maybe I would have ended up like a father. He gave up - he adds quietly.

Because - as therapists claim - even a super-professional genogram will not work if the patient does not want to change. Only this can start the processes that helped Ewa and Michał. They themselves changed their lives. After all, this is what breaking a genogram is all about.

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