Friday, December 12, 2014


When working with clients that have a history of abuse or unstable relationships, I find it helpful to do a genogram with them. As Wikipedia explains it, a genogram " a pictorial display of a person's family relationships and medical history." It's like a more detailed family tree, that helps clients to observe family relationships and patterns, giving them a better understanding of how those patterns have affected them in the present. The attached image gives basic symbols that are used on a genogram, but I always encourage clients to add their own symbols if they find important patterns or feel like something should be included that's not already listed on the genogram key.

I usually have client's start with their grandparents on each side of the family and work their way down to their immediate family, while also having them include any other family relationships that were a major part of their life. Genograms can be confusing, so it's important to walk through this exercise with your client. I try to have them get down the relationships first, before having them add any symbols.
After the relationships are on paper, the client's add symbols for how the relationships were (i.e. fused, hostile, abusive, etc.) and any important experiences/ailments family members may have experienced (i.e. substance abuse, mental illness, etc.). The paper will get very messy, so I always warn my client's that the genogram is not meant to be pretty.

At the end, I go over the relationships on the paper, any patterns the client observes, and how the family relationships and patterns have affected them in the past and in the present. It allows you to learn more about your clients, and as one client told me, being able to see the patterns of abuse on paper really solidified for her why she tended to enter abusive relationships. If you are looking for genogram examples, you can find some here.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Between having more responsibilities at work, studying for the licensure, and the holidays approaching, I have been incredibly busy! Not to mention intense situations happening in our nation and my own community. That’s why I want to take a moment and stress the importance of self-care.
I know that right now it can be difficult to focus on yourself. Whether you have exams coming up, are travelling, preparing to see family, etc., you may feel like you don’t have time for much of anything! But if you don’t take care of yourself, you may be putting your physical and emotional health at risk.
I’ve been very cognizant about checking in with myself and making sure that I’m doing enjoyable things outside of work. I’ll admit that after a long work day, usually the last thing I want to do is see people, go out, or do anything productive. But that means that I just have to try harder. I’ve come up with a weekly goal for spending time with loved ones and going out to be sure that I don’t get stagnant (but also making sure I don’t overwhelm myself). I’ve been trying my best to keep up with eating healthy and exercising (though it can be so difficult this time of year!). And I’ve been trying new things, like visiting local parks I’ve never been to and going for long hikes down unfamiliar trails.
If you are having difficulty thinking up self-care activities, this is a great list of self-care activities I hand out to my clients! What are some of the things you like to do for self-care?