Family Genogram

Family Genogram

The family genogram is a graphic depiction of a client’s family tree. The first of three steps is the

structure of the genogram. When constructing a genogram, use the following symbols:

Male = Fraternal Twins =

Female =

Marriage = Identical Twins =

Divorce =

Death = Adopted Child =

Children =


Males are depicted using squares, females are depicted using circles, and unknown gender is

depicted using triangles. Marriages are shown with a horizontal line connecting the two

symbols. A divorce adds a slash through the marriage line. Year of marriage and, if applicable,

divorce can be written on the line. Deceased family members have an X marked through their


Each generation is on its own distinct horizontal plane, so children are denoted using solid

vertical lines coming off a horizontal children line that is below the marriage line of the parents.

The length of the line is whatever is necessary to include all children, arranged in birth order.

Spouses of the children can have symbols next to them with their own marriage line between

them. The marriage line and children line are connected with a vertical line. That line can be as

long as is needed to maintain generational planes. Adopted children have an added dashed

vertical line next to the solid line. Twins have diagonal lines, coming from one point of

connection on the children line, with identical twins having an additional horizontal line

connecting their symbols.

Feel free to create new symbols to represent other aspects of your family that are not included

here (e.g. living together, affair). The client is the focus of the genogram, so their parents are

arranged with the father and his family on the left-side of the genogram and the mother and her

family on the right-side of the genogram. Husbands are generally put to the left of the wife. For

same-sex relationships, order can be determined by age.

The second part to a genogram is information about the people it depicts. The basic genogram

includes names, year of birth, place of birth, year of marriage, year of death, place of death,

aunts and uncles, first cousins only, extended family members back to great-grandparents of

the client. It can also include nicknames, occupations, cause of death, handicaps, religion,

special honors, substance abuse, and other noteworthy facts.

m: 1951

m: 1951 d: 1972



The third part of a genogram is adding symbols denoting relational dynamics within the family.

These symbols are added by the therapist to the completed genogram, in session with the

client. There have been many symbols created since Bowen first used the genogram, but only

symbols for his original relationship dynamics will be provided here. Fusion is noted with three

solid lines connecting the fused family members. Emotional cut-off between family members is

depicted with one solid line that is disrupted mid-way by two small horizontal lines. Emotionally

distant, but not cut-off, relationships can be noted with a dashed line. Conflict or hostility can be

noted with a zig-zag line.

Below is a sample genogram that demonstrates proper structure and provides information and

symbols for different relational dynamics in a fictional family. Key factors to pay particular

attention to: each generation must be on its own horizontal plane; men to the left, women to the

right; do not take siblings out of birth order, instead adjust the marriage line down and across in

order to connect them.





m: 1913 d: 1935 m: 1896 m: 1901 m: 1908

Robert Smith

b: 1875, New York

d: 1935, New York


b: 1882, Boston

d: 1967, New York

Lawrence Jones

b: 1879, Virginia

d: 1947, Virginia


b: 1880, Georgia

d: 1949, Virginia

Michael Warner

b: 1882, Texas

d: 1965, Oklahoma


b: 1891, Texas

d: 1975, Oklahoma

James Allen

b: 1893, Texas

d: 1978, California


b: 1895, Texas

d: 1948, Texas

Robert Smith, Jr.

b: 1898, New York

d: 1961,


o: Journalist


b: 1904, Virginia

d: 1986, Philadelphia

o: Housewife, Secretary

m: 1925

Jack Warner

b: 1918, Texas

d: 1997, California

o: Plant Foreman


b: 1920, Texas

o: Housewife

m: 1939

Thomas Lynn

b: 1926

o: Lawyer


b: 1927, Penn.

o: Housewife


b: 1930, Penn.

o: Florist

Mark Dalton

b: 1931

o: Butcher

David Smith

b: 1935, Penn.

o: Contractor

William Warner

b: 1946, Texas

o: Chef

Walter Warner

b: 1946, Texas

o: Accountant


b: 1940, Texas

o: Housewife


b: 1949

o: Hair Stylist m: 1967

Tim Lynn

b: 1957

o: Pharmacist

Neil Lynn

b: 1960

o: Landscaper

John Dalton

b: 1954

o: Artist


b: 1957

o: Teacher

Frank Dalton

b: 1962

o: Fireman


b: 1972

o: Housewife

Philip Smith

b: 1968, Arizona

o: Plumber

Daniel Smith

b: 1971, Arizona

d: 2004

o: Writer


b: 1975, Arizona

o: Housewife

Michael Lee

b: 1972, Colorado

o: Police Officer


b: 1975

o: Doctor


b: 1977

o: Webmaster

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