Do you use Genograms?
Many therapists, social workers and especially counsellors and psychotherapists who work with couples and families have been taught to work with genograms. This is often a first step in the therapy process. The basis of many family therapies currently in use, is Bowen Family systems developed by Murray Bowen 1974. However, the use of genograms came later, in 1985 Details.
In working with present day problems that people face, whether this is a personal or relational issue, it’s frequently not simply, communication, behaviour, feeling or beliefs that are the problems. These are symptoms of underlying, deeper issues. Not the cause. The cause is often repressed subconscious personal or systemic aspects of the mind.
As a practitioner in looking at the mind-body connection of the brain and nervous system in a person, I can’t know if the cause is a personal experience, or buried in family or generational dynamics.
If I were to draw up a genogram, It would show many possible sources in the family system, without any way of knowing which are relevant for this particular client and their problem. There is also the danger that I as a therapist, choose to work with an area shown in a genogram, coming from my own subconscious, unconscious bias, rather than what is most fitting for the client. I need to be mindful of transference or projection here.
Another problem is that In terms of working with a genogram is, if there are many possibilities is, I don’t know which of the events are relevant to the client. EG the murder of a grandfather, exclusion of an aunt with mental illness, having a baby out of wedlock, secret affairs of a parent, or emotional disconnection of the client with one or both of their parents, family secrets or trauma. These dynamics are governed by deep entanglements and loyalties that are subconscious. They are not in the awareness of the client as they are only aware of the resultant problem or pattern.eIn terms of the individual subconscious, I know that many therapists using processes such as EMDR that take a history of major events in life, that may have been problematic. My clients repeatedly report that recalling difficult events in life experience is often very disturbing, as it frequently retraumatises in making them relive the situations; simply by listing.
Sub conscious, is the operative word here, as in my experience, it is what is operating subconsciously that is most frequently the cause of present thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Most people have awareness of problems, but often don’t know where they originate (as it is subconscious), or how to change them.
Human beings are adept at attempting to make meaning. Create stories full of metaphor and meaning about themselves and their experiences, that are frequently factually inaccurate. While this is fine for fiction, memoirs, poetry or pros, this is not so helpful in working with a real problem or issue, as the exploration may not uncover the cause , even after extensive attempts. What I find repeatedly is that people access the source of a problem accurately, its often not what they had imagined at all.
If we are using a genogram or a list of events, we are also faced with the task of how to use to use it, in the therapeutic process. Do we attempt to deal with each event sequentially, or pick what appears to be the most likely to work with from our, or the client’s perspective? This may lead to sessions going for weeks or months and may, that may not be effective in resolving the issue.
I am really grateful that Family Constellations training informed me about the power of working with phenomenology, with not knowing, or needing to know. In working with body-sensed feeling (somatic) and being receptive to what arises and morphogenic fields. Details, This is known as the ‘Knowing field’ in Family Constellations terms. Since learning Family Constellations, I prefer to work with ‘not knowing’. This allows the client’s mind-body connection to go to the source of the issue directly to causal events. These experiences are embedded in the brain, nervous system and body organs or tissues. This may go to the event/s in their life, or deeper to the family system.
The founder of Family Constellations Bert Hellinger, didn’t use genograms. Instead he trusted the inner connections of the person concerned to tap into their systemic field and be guided to the cause. In these processes, constellation knowledge also allow the client and their family systems to find their best solutions, in brief, solution-focused interventions.
In terms of the personal unconscious mind, I use Rapid Core Healing or Emotional Mind Integration (EMI) to connect with the presenting problem in psycho-dynamic processes. This provides a pathway for the client’s mind-body to connect with the core of the issue directly.
If it is a situation that occurred in the life experience of the client (personal), it will land there. Again a specific EMI healing pathway that completes with integration is used here to process it. EMI is a brief, solution-focused intervention.
If it lies in the family system we land there and proceed with a systemic family constellations process. It’s all guided by the client’s nervous system or energy.
In moving forward to more effective and precise methodologies, I have found that it is unnecessary, time wasting, confusing and diverting to use genograms to map out problematic issues. Or to list problematic events in life, particularly if we have ways of working that can ‘cut to the quick’ sensitively and safely; in targeting the cause/s psycho-dynamically and provide pathways of self-healing and solutions, quickly.
How do I know this works? My clients are my greatest teachers in letting me know what works. I operate on results.
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