“When we illuminate the road back to our ancestors, they have a way of reaching out, of manifesting themselves…”~Raquel Cepeda
Ingrained in each of us are intergenerational patterns that are taught and passed down for generations. Those cute family trees we made in elementary school with our handprint as the branches and our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins listed on them is just the beginning. Our stories go back much further and deeper.
As an interventionist or counselor, understanding your own family-of-origin story is a valuable tool when working with families. When we become aware of the patterns that appear throughout our family’s history, we can learn to capitalize on our family’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Without awareness of these patterns, they will continue to play out over and over again for generations.
Working with Genograms
One of the tools we use at ARISE when working with families is the genogram. In basic terms, the genogram is a family’s graphic depiction of the family tree that also shows more specific details about the individuals (ex. careers, mental & physical health issues, traumas) and their relationships with each other in the family. (ex. The grandson is very close to his grandmother and has stopped speaking to his father.)
One of the reasons we love working with genograms with our families is that by understanding their intergenerational patterns they learn to reduce their shame, blame, and guilt by seeing and understanding how far back the problems started. We teach them how to look at their family story to not only find the struggles but how their family members overcame them.
Genograms use symbols and different colors to represent transitions, relationships, and illnesses. It’s powerful to look at a completed 5 generation genogram and see lots of different colors showing what your family has been through. You can see how the patterns replay over and over again through the years as people in the family are faced with different struggles; the loss of a child, divorce, moving to a new country, etc. The power comes in understanding that the patterns exist and what triggered them and also seeing (visually) that their family has survived – for generations.
As an interventionist or counselor, you can show them that theirs is a family who survived. This is a family who was able to use their strengths to overcome really hard times. And now that they can see the patterns, we can encourage them to remove their shame, blame, and guilt and embrace their family story and recognize the strength and resilience they have in them, running deep for generations.
“I am the product of all the ancestors getting together and deciding these stories need to be told.”~Rupi Kaur
- If you are interested in learning more about Genograms, we have an online course available. You will learn more about their use and practice creating genograms from case studies.
- If you are interested in learning more about ARISE Comprehensive Care with Invitational Intervention training, click here.
- If you are a family member interested in learning more about ARISE Comprehensive Care with Invitational Intervention, call us at 877- 308-0335.