A genogram is a way of representing a family tree and
relationships within the family.
The following symbols are used to represent the gender
of family members
If a family member is deceased, this is indicated by
placing a cross inside their symbol:
Enduring relationships, such as marriage and cohabitation,
are illustrated by a single unbroken line:
Transitory relationships are illustrated by a single
Separation is shown by a single short diagonal line
across the relationship line:
Divorce is shown by two short diagonal lines across
the relationship line:
When there are a number of children from a relationship
the eldest child is placed on the furthest left, followed
by the second eldest and so on, with the youngest child
appearing on the right.
Twins are indicated by two symbols coming from a single
A miscarriage or abortion is indicated by a diagonal
cross. In the genogram the miscarriage or abortions should
be placed in the diagram in the same order as other children.
So for example if a couple had a daughter, Mary, followed
by a miscarriage, followed by a son David, their genogram
would look like this:
The family members who are part of the same household
are indicated by dotted line which is placed around the
Using a Genogram
Completing a genogram can fulfil a number of functions:
- identifying intergenerational patterns within families;
- finding out about the family's history and how much
of the history individual family members know.
Further information on genograms can be found on page
29 of Assessing Children in Need and their Families:
Practice Guidance (Department of Health 2000).
Using the genogram as a tool to assess family relationships
is detailed in the Family Assessment: Family Competence,
Strengths and Difficulties (Bentovim and Bingley Miller
Integrated Children's System