Trainee diary: Counselling Skills
I guess sometimes we can be overloaded with information. Say, for instance, you’re having a conversation with a friend who tells you that her sister’s, best friend’s, cousin’s, auntie’s, brother’s uncle was a farmer. That his grandfather was a farmer and that his nephew was thinking of becoming a farmer. How would you remember where the uncle fitted in? Would you remember the link he has with your friend’s sister? I know I would struggle. This is where data gathering through the means of a Genogram would fit in and help matters.
We were asked to work in pairs and collect data about each other. Our tutor had shown us how this could be done in a clear and easy way. I began with my partner’s name in the centre of a sheet of paper and drew a circle around it to symbolise the fact that she is female. I then added her age and occupation. I asked if she was married and added a box with her partner’s name in the centre of it along with his age and occupation. I asked if she had any children, added two more lines which met and joined another two boxes to herself and her husband. In these boxes I added her children’s names and ages. I continued gathering information about her family, including her parents, siblings and her partner’s parents and siblings. I drew different symbols next to some names where appropriate. They had various meanings. For example, scissors represented divorce, a cross represented a death. Once a clear “map” had been drawn up we could see clear patterns within her family.
We then swapped roles and she began asking me questions about my family. Once a clear picture of my family history had been drawn we could see a clear divide in job history. Practically half of my family are in the caring profession, from farming to nursing to teaching. The other half was of a much more artistic nature, from shoe maker to pottery painter to musician. What was also interesting is that I have married a Podiatrist who has a huge artistic streak, and that I have a caring job as well as being very artistic too.
Are these things ingrained from an early age? Do we always tend to follow a pattern in life? Do we subconsciously grasp ideas, wants and needs because of our family history? Do we consciously make changes from lessons learnt from our families’ patterns?
The Genogram gives a pictorial display of a person’s family relationship. By using this I was able to visualise patterns within relationships. It helped to explain family dynamics within both my own family’s history and my partner’s.
This is a tool that I have enjoyed learning about. It provided a clearer picture of who fitted in where in my family’s history. It helped me to understand more about myself and perhaps why I have/have not had certain aspirations, views, needs and wants. I feel inspired to try it out on friends and also my in-laws!!
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