From genogram to genograph: using narrative means to contextualize social reality in the counselling session

10 January 2011

This article addresses a process that occurs when applying narrative therapy during a counselling session, namely moving away from the genogram towards the more effective genograph. Narrative therapy implies that we often talk and share stories about ourselves and that these stories are usually within a social context, whether it is our families, personal relationships or work. Stories are an important aspect in narrative therapy and therefore the counsellor must be aware of a family’s different contexts both as a family system, and as a group of individual members. The article takes as point of departure the thoughts of Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead and their influence on the development of the ‘self’ and the construction of our social reality within this process. It further argues in favour of the use of a genograph as a symbolic representation of the personal meanings of a family member’s experience of the dominant and alternative stories with which they live.