What is a Genogram and How Does That Fit into Recovery?

Using genograms in recovery A genogram [jen-uh-gram] is defined as,

“…A graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed data on relationships among individuals.”

When we talk about addiction, we recognize that there are many factors that can make a person susceptible towards it – such as genetics, environment and more. Researchers believe that family history accounts for approximately 40-60% of addiction risk, and genograms can give us insight into our family history – which only serves to fill in those missing puzzle pieces that make up our addiction recovery journey.

Genograms allow a therapist and client to look through past family history and the various hereditary and psychological factors that have an effect on the client’s state of mind. First, basic data typically found in family trees is shown, such as: name, gender, date of birth and death, but genograms may also provide information like education, occupation, major life events, chronic illnesses, social behaviors, nature of family relationships, as well as histories of disorders shown throughout the family.

If you were to look at a constructed genogram, you’d see different symbols that explain the various relationships that exist. With addiction recovery, genograms can help people understand how their family history and relationships have impacted a person’s leading up to addiction. Sometimes the root causes found aren’t even addiction, but rather emotional problems, personality differences, etc. Close, distant, tense and conflicted relationships can also be noted in genograms, which tells a person a lot about family dynamic – which in turn can impact the way a person is raised, how they think, the way they fit into social relationships and much more.

Author Liam Callanan once stated,

“We all carry inside us, people who came before us.”

No matter where we’re at in life, this truth remains: that we all have a past, and we all have a history of people who make up our family history. By getting to know the linkages of our family tree and the conditions our family members experienced over time, we may be able to gain a little bit deeper of an understanding of ourselves.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.