Genograms in Research: Participants' Reflections of the Genogram Process



Alexander JH, Callaghan JEM & Fellin LC (2022) Genograms in Research: Participants' Reflections of the Genogram Process. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 19 (1), pp. 91-111.

The genogram is a visual, symbolic representation of multiple generations of a family, structured in much the same way as a family tree. Genograms emerged within systemic family therapy as an assessment and intervention tool but, in their ability to generate rich data, they are gaining traction as a research tool. While the benefits of genograms in therapeutic practice have been well documented, the literature exploring them as a research method is limited. This paper aims to contribute to this knowledge, by considering participants' experiential reflections of constructing their genograms, a process they engaged in as part of a broader study which explored the intergenerational transmission of family violence. We illustrate that while genograms generated powerful qualitative data, they also had unintended therapeutic and transformative effects on participants which transcended the interview room. We consider the ethical complexities of using genograms as a qualitative method, and make recommendations for future research.

genograms; visual methods; graphic elicitation; ethical complexities; family research

Qualitative Research in Psychology: Volume 19, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online17/12/2018
Date accepted by journal18/10/2018

People (1)


Professor Jane Callaghan

Professor Jane Callaghan

Director Child Wellbeing & Protection, Social Work