Basics of the Written Portion of Your Genogram Project
The Genogram paper is not a family history but rather is characterized by discussion and analysis of dynamics within the student’s family. This paper is largely an interpretive analysis of the one-page genogram drawing and should include information and history only as is helpful in demonstrating the underlying feelings, motivations, and reasons involved in the issues of the student’s family. Some marks of a good paper: clarity in expression, discussion/analysis of processes, integration of history and relational dynamics, concise transition between stories and analysis, breadth of coverage, discipline in focus.
The Genogram paper follows standard academic writing procedure but is heart-oriented and reflective in nature. Though citations will most likely be minimal, proper credit should be given if using words or ideas from another person. The paper should also be written in good English, which includes proper spelling and grammar as well as prose that is free from informal English (slang, appeals to the reader, contractions, etc.). The text should be clear, coherent, and as concise as possible.
Elements of a Genogram
This section seeks to lay out the process of writing the genogram paper, not give methods for how to draw your one-page genogram or analyze the family dynamics. For tips on these processes, see your professor or some of the following resources:
- A Family Genogram Workbook by Israel Galindo, Elaine Boomer, and Don Reagan (Richmond, VA: Educational Consultants, 2006).
- Genograms: Assessment and Intervention by Monica McGoldrick, Randy Gerson, and Sylvia Shellenberger (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999).
- Focused Genograms: Intergenerational Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families by Rita DeMaria, Gerald Weeks, and Larry Hof (Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel, 1999).
Choose a topic/focus. Based on the patterns you see on your genogram, choose the relational patterns/topics to focus. This focus should be narrow enough in scope for you to cover adequately in your paper and should be a prevalent theme throughout your genogram.
Formulate a thesis. This one-sentence assertion will summarize the issues you plan to focus on in your paper. A thesis should be narrow and doable, yet challenging and interesting to you and your reader.
Research/plan using class material and outside resources, explore processes. Take notes of key themes you will discuss in your paper and group similar thoughts together. Revise thesis if necessary. Using these groups, follow the lead of your thesis to build an outline.
Write your paper using the outline you have built.
Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself as You Write
- Am I describing processes shown on my genogram diagram?
- Are my transitions between the various elements of history/story/process coherent?
- Am I analyzing relationship dynamics or merely summarizing family history?
Format of a Research Paper
Unless your professor requests otherwise, the following conventions are recommended.
- The paper should be typed and double-spaced using a clear, non-ornamental, serif font. Examples of acceptable fonts include Times New Roman or Palatino. The text of the paper should be set in 12-point type with footnotes in 10-point.
- Margins are typically 1″ on all sides.
- Page numbers should be included on all pages in a place that remains consistent throughout the paper (i.e., top right on every page, bottom center on every page, etc.).
- Only one space (not two) should be placed after the terminal punctuation of a sentence.
- Titles of books and other longer works should be italicized, not underlined. Titles of articles, essays, parts of longer works, or other shorter works should be enclosed in quotation marks.