Genograms & Ecomaps

by Katlyn Joy

Genograms and ecomaps are visual tools used by a variety of professionals to help assess family situations and dynamics. They are useful tools for medical professionals, social workers, counselors and therapists.


A genogram is a family tree depicted in graphic form to illustrate the relationships between family members with in-depth data. An ecomap encompasses more of an individual's relationships, extending into representing not just family members but other personal social relationships as well.


To use an ecomap or genogram, some symbols are utilized to illustrate elements of relationships. For example, males are represented with squares and females with circles; biological children are connected by a solid line while adopted children are connected with a dashed line; and pregnancy is indicated by a triangle while miscarriage is shown as a triangle with an "X" through it. A divorce is indicated by two slashes, and separation by one slash line.


Genograms and ecomaps are helpful in identifying prevalent patterns of behavior or family issues such as divorce, alienation between siblings, suicides or alcoholism. Professionals working with individuals or families can use these tools to recognize family history and help the client understand patterns at work in their history.

About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.

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