Genogram: What is it and what is it for?

genogram that is

The importance of the family in our health, according to studies, is something very relevant. Since not only the habits that we have as individuals affect our health. There are many other conditions that we do not control, such as the health of our parents, even before they conceive us. But also, during pregnancy. That is why there are certain habits that parents must form when they want to have children.

But these studies reveal that it is not only in this direct case when it can affect us. When we have a disease such as diabetes, it may be due to our family genetics. That is why it is important to know it, once we are adults, to know what we are prone to in our lives. How to try to avoid further damage, for example, creating better habits. This is what the Genogram is for.

For example, if a relative of ours suffers from high blood sugar, perhaps we can inherit it. But if from the beginning we control our eating habits trying to avoid this, we may not have the same problem. Or in your case, we have it much more controlled and it does not affect us as drastically as expected. That is why it is good to know what the Genogram is and what it is for.

What is the Genogram?


A more technical definition of the Genogram is that it is a «graphical representation through an instrument that records information on STRUCTURE and/or composition of a family (structural genogram) and the RELATIONSHIPS and/or FUNCTIONALITY between its members (relational genogram), of at least three generations”.

Or what is the same, a scheme that shows the entire structure and how your family is formed in at least three generations ago. That is, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are represented in this scheme, what are the problems they may have suffered and what relationship do they have with you? Thus, problems that you may suffer from in the future could be detected in advance.

Through the use of symbols, it allows the interviewer to collect, record, relate and expose categories of information from the family system, at a specific moment in its evolution, as if it were an x-ray and/or photograph and use it for problem solving, education and prevention in individual and family health.

This way of looking at the family structure that you have is obviously temporary. That is why as the family root grows, we would have to update our family scheme. In this way we will always be updated.

The design of the Genogram

design outline

This one has a very particular design. Since to represent all the information that we have talked about before it is not based on numbers and letters. Since it collects a lot of information, it condenses it into symbols that mean the different results that are displayed. As they can be a square, a circle, double square or a cross. They all represent the scheme. We are going to explain what each one is.

  • Cuadrado: This symbol represents the male
  • Circle: This symbol represents the woman
  • The patient: In this case, for each patient the symbol is represented with a double line. Either circle for women or square for men
  • A cross: This symbol represents a deceased relative.
  • Triangle: Represents the relative's pregnancy at that time
  • Lines discontinuous. This establishes a delimitation of the members that belong to the same household.
  • The male should go to the left and the female to the right. if it is a couple.
  • The children should be ordered from oldest to youngest. and from left to right
  • For abortion a small is represented highlighted circle

To represent all the functionality of this scheme, as we can see in the image, unions are made between family members. These strokes are connected to the symbols that represent each of the situations that we have described in the list. Double lines, for example, represent very close relationships between the two relatives that unite them. For a somewhat conflictive or non-existent relationship, a broken line.

Advantages of the Genogram

These family studies, like many other studies, have some advantages.. But they also have some limitations that, although they make them reliable, are conditioned by some aspects. This case is no different, since the Genogram cannot cover everything. Since it depends not only on him, but also on the person to whom this study is done. Here we are going to detail some advantages that it has.

  • The patient has a systematic medical record
  • It has a graphical format that is easy to read and understand
  • It favors the elaboration of more accurate hypotheses about therapies for the patient.
  • Facilitates patient education knowing everything that affects you
  • Evidence of certain disease patterns.
  • Represents the structure of your family, something that is important to know ourselves.
  • Allows you to identify some of the elements that make up what the patient supports (parents, children, partner...)
  • It is a way to obtain emotional information of the patient without being too invasive

In addition to these advantages of the study, the person who seeks to carry it out demonstrates other virtues. Like the interest to improve, to know his family and to take care of those around him as well as to take care of himself. Something that is important to maintain a healthy environment in your environment. As well as to establish healthy affective relationships with everyone around us.


Even with all these advantages that we can see, which is recommended, this study also has some disadvantages that we are going to see here.

  • Lack of collaboration with the patient. Since it takes complete sincerity on your part.
  • time required for its realization
  • Reflects the situation at a certain time, so it needs to be done “continuously”.
  • Information that comes from a single person may distort the reality of the study.

That is why it is important that several people from the same family undergo the study., to have a more global vision of what happens in the family. Thus, aspects that may be hidden by one of the members would not be hidden by others.

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