Family trees have become popular over the past several years due in part to The commercials are very catchy and it sparked interest in many people to look at their family history.

In therapy, family trees, called genograms, are used to see patterns in family behavior. Genograms are given as homework assignments for clients to work on and then process in sessions. Patterns can include healthy and unhealthy ones.

Some of the types of patterns that can be plotted include mental illness, substance usage, medical issues, marriages/divorces, family roles, sexual and physical abuse, emotional abuse, traumatic events, and any other significant issues that have impacted a family. This information is used to help a client see how they have been or can be impacted by their family history.

One of the most common traits passed down from generation to generation is drug usage and alcoholism. Completing a genogram can be used with a client who comes from an addicted family. A therapist may point out how generational substance usage can impact other areas of lives. For example, research shows that there is a correlation between substance usage and physical abuse. It depends on what the client is working on, but all the information can be used to move a client along the therapeutic process.

Another way a genogram can be used is to track positive family relationships, personality traits and happy memories. This would be an effective tool to use with a client who wants to forge a relationship with a family or repair a broken system.

If you’re in therapy or working a 12 step program, a genogram is a great supplement to the work you’re already doing.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to do your genogram, click here.


Photo credit: Pinterest

Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at