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The Family Diagram and Genogram: Comparisons and Contrasts

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The family diagram and its derivative the genogram are widely used in marriage and family therapy, other mental health disciplines, and family medicine. After a brief history of the origins of the family diagram and genogram, several different areas are compared in order to help distinguish differences between family diagrams and genograms. The results of these evaluations illustrate some similarities in format and symbols due to a common history, but distinct differences in purpose, theoretical basis, rationale for data collection, and interpretation guidelines. Divergent theoretical perspectives explain the differences between family diagrams and genograms. The family diagram is intertwined with Bowen family systems theory, while the genogram emphasizes how the nuclear family interacts within multiple contextual levels. The family diagram and genogram are not synonymous; rather, they are distinctly different methods of family assessment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Rose Street Mental Care, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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