Using Genograms

It’s a Genogram,

It’s like a people map,

Child looks puzzled

“A map of your family”

Aha! Child understands

I elaborate

“So if you are talking about Chorley

I will know where Chorley fits into your picture

Without having to interrupt your story to ask”

Child looks thoughtful then asks, “Who is Chorley?”

“Isn’t that what you call your Granpa?”

The smile breaks through and lights up the room,

She knows I’m being silly

“No, he’s just Gramp”

“Is that mummy’s daddy or daddy’s daddy?”

I draw the square and write the name Gramp

And so we begin

Each Child had a family map

Easing the beginning of our time together

Making those first questions about The Others

Breaks Ice

The maps provided vital details


Insight deeper than Child Words

Sometimes at the end of a session, my head and heart would spin

I‘d speak the feeling,

“Phew, makes me dizzy. What’s it like living it? ”

Clearly Child has been waiting for someone to speak it

There are divided loyalties

Having someone to talk to seems to help

A little bit

I add faces

I draw them down one side just like the legend on a map

So Child can point to the face they most often see on that person

Each Child understands

One Child insisted I add a Father-crying-face

We talked

My heart broke that day

For Child

For Father

Another asked for Mother-face… “Small, smaller…

Make her mouth just a full stop.” Child said

When it came to Father’s face

I understood

One Child, approaching manhood











Struggled with Essential Self

His map revealed Mystery Men

Father: unknown

Grand fathers: unknown

Boyfriends: Numerous, known but faceless

No Relationship

No Respect

His Teacher his only Significant Male Role Model,

Walked taller that day

But one Tormented Child taught me the Importance of Maps

Her father had fallen in love with Lady Fair,

“He’s sick in love,” she told me

I knew what she meant

I’d met them

I agreed, he was smitten

They had decided to move in together

To see if the Family would take

Everyone was happy

Except for Child whose naughtiness was growing day by day

I drew the family map as she directed

The Ice Broke

Trickle turned to flood

As the story spilled out I let her talk

Her daddy didn’t love her anymore…

He loved Lady Fair and her daughter more

The tears rolled on with words hot and fast

“I’m trying to be nice but I just can’t

I feel so sad and angry all the time”

We talked about the new arrangements,

The parents had to share a room

But they were okay with that

Her boys had a room

They were okay too

But the girls had to share a room

Her room

She had to share, her room and her daddy

No wonder she was so unhappy

We talked and talked

Worked out a few things that needed to be sorted out

Including a special place she could call her own

She was still not happy as we finished

It would take some work

I finished the family map and showed her

Jagged conflict lines told the story

I pointed to the circles those lines connected

“Remember, circles are girls, we need to put names on them

Who is who?”

She pointed to the one nearest Her Daddy

She named the Cuckoo in the Nest

“So where are you?

“All the way over here,” she points

“Is that how it feels?”

Child head nods

Heavy Hearted

“Well, that may be how it feels, but this circle, the double circle, that’s you

She is all the way over there.

And that will never change

You are his little girl and your place is here”

Child eyes grow wide

Pause, as Truth trickles down

“Do you think your daddy is being extra kind to her, so she feels welcome?

I mean she’s had to come to your house, share your room… and share your daddy

What do you think?”

She was happy

For now it was enough

The sight of a few pen marks on a page made The Difference.

Daddy – Daughter Restored

When we get lost in Relationships

It helps to have a map

Words and Pictures © Denise Stanford 2010

Case details have been altered or combined to respect confidentiality

Genograms were established as a clinical tool by M. McGoldrick & R Gerson, Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, 1985

Adding faces and pets, is my idea!

~ by Denise Within the Vine on 06/04/2010.

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