A Genogram is a unique type of family research diagram. It not only records family members but also many of their physical and physiological attributes by utilizing an elaborate system of symbols. For example, the lines between individuals may represent emotional relationships, or the shapes representing individuals may be colored differently to indicate the presence of a disorder or similar medical issue. Females are represented by circles and males by squares.
Although this type of diagram can be quite complicated, it can include a multitude of information. For this reason it can be very helpful in determining an individual's probability of inheriting a certain characteristic or disease, or it can help others understand the cause of an individual's behavior by his or her past experiences.
- Start the chart. Determine what family or individual on which to focus the Genogram. Decide which person is in the earliest generation that you wish to include and place his or her name in a box (square for male, circle for female) at the top of the diagram. Draw a line connecting him or her to a spouse.
- Add to the chart. Add a line and connect each of the first couple's children. Then add more lines to show the spouses of each of the first couple's children. Then draw their children. Continue until all of the people you want on the Genogram have been entered.
- Gather information. Depending on what type of information you choose to focus on, learn about the people to be placed on the Genogram by consulting members of the family or other individuals who possess the information needed.
- Add symbols. Many symbols are used in Genograms to represent anything from whether or not a person has had cancer to whether or not two siblings have been talking in the last five years. Use these symbols to detail each person's life. Keep the purpose of the Genogram in mind while applying these details. For simplicity, only include information relevant to that purpose.
- Make a legend. Create a legend including each symbol used so that the Genogram is easy to read and understand.
- Use your chart. Use your diagram to draw conclusions for yourself, share with family members, ask advice from doctors, or predict behavior in others, etc.