Use of the genogram with families for assessment and treatment



In this chapter, the use of the genogram is highlighted as a tool for couple or family assessment, to determine therapeutic options, and to intervene. Typical symbols used and questions asked for the purpose of building the genogram are described. Several cases are presented, the first of which illustrates the intertwining of assessment and intervention in couple's therapy. The second case presents the challenge of interviewing and drawing a genogram of a family where there are multiple partners, children by different partners, and complex relationship dynamics. The third case shows both the biological and adoptive families of one adult. In the portrayal of the cases, points of referral for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy are noted. Adaptations of the traditional genogram, including socially constructed genograms, projective genograms, and community genograms, are discussed along with limitations of the genogram technique.


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Sylvia Shellenberger

Original Work Citation

Shellenberger, S. (2007). Use of the genogram with families for assessment and treatment. In F. Shapiro, F. W. Kaslow, & L. Maxfield (Eds.), Handbook of EMDR and family therapy processes (pp. 76-94). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc



“Use of the genogram with families for assessment and treatment,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 30, 2020,

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