Family History Project Part I: Family Interviews and Genogram

Table of contents

A genogram is used to bring a deep insight of family background that helps counselors to map out family relationships and traits enhancing their knowledge about the family. This tool was developed by Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson and is commonly used in clinical settings to diagnose and treat substance use disorders (Metcalf, 2019).

Common features of the genogram include the number of families, number of children in a specific family, birth order, and number of deaths within the families. The genogram provides family information across several generations. Other information provided by the genogram includes the medical history, common behaviors, patterns of family history, and problems within the family (Metcalf, 2019). This project will examine my own family history from a counseling perspective using the genogram.


Significant Issues Identified

Based on the genogram, my grandfather (Stephen) had health problems that may have contributed to alcoholism. He had cancer and diabetes that are illness which may emotionally and mentally affect a person leading to alcoholism or substance abuse.

This is because these diseases have no cure and affected individuals undergo through discouraging times (Plant & Holland, 2018). Without adequate support from family members, affected individuals may be entangled in drug use. My grandfather lost his job where he worked for the aviation industry. He later became a farmer where he would get lump sum payments for goods delivered in retail stores. This contributed to his alcoholic behavior where he would sleep out in drinking sprees (Plant & Holland, 2018). This led to a strained relationship with his wife (Jane) where violence was also witnessed.

Stephen felt that his family was not supportive to him through the difficulty times. On the other hand, his wife had high blood pressure and suffered depression due to this disease as well as the violence from his husband. Stephen was also hostile to his three children Daniel, Joyce, and Alex. However, their grandmother loved and cared for her children protecting them from their father (Plant & Holland, 2018).

Their children have a hateful relationship with one another that may be attributed to the violent environment. Daniel, who is my father married Ruth (my mother) and have two children Donald (me) and my sister Beatrice. Their relationship is however full of distrust that may be attributed to the strained relationship between my father and his father. Alcoholism is also common in my family that has further affected the relationship between my father and mother (Plant & Holland, 2018).

My father is also suffering from diabetes and experiences extreme moods. However, we are best friends and shares personal experiences with me. This may be attributed to the reason that I am his only son and our relationship is cordial (Godleski & Leonard, 2019). He has continuously expressed how his father disappointed him in various ways and did not support him in achieving life goals.

This has led to him making certain provisions and providing support to me to ensure that I will achieve my goals in life. One of the positive attributes regarding my family that has influenced me in various perspectives is the Christian background (Godleski & Leonard, 2019). This is based on the belief of a one true sovereign God who has power over all the creation.

Most of my decisions are based on godly values and even though some members may participate in some activities that are considered immoral, there is a desire to change the negative behaviors due to the consequences on the person as well as other members of the family (Guttmannova et al., 2017). My relationship with my mother has been a good one and she has guided me in most of life’s transitions.

One of the expectations of men in my family is to provide and protect the family. This has been the responsibility of my grandfather as well as my father. However, when my grandfather lost his job in the aviation sector, he became a farmer a process that saw his income decline rapidly (Guttmannova et al., 2017). This was worsened by the reason that his family expected him to continue providing for the family.

Since my father is unemployed, this has negatively affected his status as the leader of the house and feels that he does not deserve to become a father. However, he has supported his family with whatever he gets from some of the personal businesses that he carries out occasionally (Godleski & Leonard, 2019). One unique family history that has influenced my personal identity is the loss of a job for my grandfather.

This has positively influenced me in choosing my career as well as making important life’s decisions. My grandfather’s alcoholic behavior led to a strained relationship within his family an aspect that is similar with his son’s family (Godleski & Leonard, 2019). This is evident where some of the issues that were experienced in my grandfather’s family are being experienced in my father’s family.


Using a genogram, counselors can identify intergenerational family patterns or themes that influence current families. Family history is also provided that indicates some of the issues that may likely arise in the future (Gerhardt, 2019).

In diagnosing substance use disorders, this information is important since it enables counselors to make accurate diagnosis and select effective treatment interventions for the clients. This is because the counselor understands the emotional, spiritual, and biological relationship between different family members which will help in breaking generational issues that have negatively affected families due to the problems associated with the issues (Gerhardt, 2019).


  • Gerhardt, C. E. (2019). Families in Motion: Dynamics in Diverse Contexts (1st Edition). Los Angeles. SAGE Publications.
  • Godleski, S., & Leonard, K. E. (2019). Substance use and substance problems in families: How families impact and are impacted by substance use. APA handbook of contemporary family psychology: Applications and broad impact of family Psychology. Vol. 2. (pp. 587–602). American Psychological Association.
  • Guttmannova, K., Hill, K. G., Bailey, J. A., Hartigan, L., Small, C. M., & Hawkins, J. D. (2017). Parental Alcohol Use, Parenting, and Child On-Time Development. Infant and Child
  • Development, 26(5), e2013.
  • Metcalf, L. (2019). Marriage and family therapy: A practice-oriented approach. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC.
  • Plant, C. P., & Holland, J. M. (2018). Family Behavior Therapy for Alcohol and Drug Problems in Later-Life. Clinical Gerontologist, 41(5), 508–515.

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