Harnessing the Power of Genograms in Psychotherapy
by Monica McGoldrick
Watch master family therapist  Monica McGoldrick, MSW, create a genogram on the spot in this live session with a client struggling to understand why he is distancing from his pregnant wife.
This is a rare opportunity to watch the therapist who developed and popularized genograms demonstrate how to actually create and utilize them in a therapy session. In this video, you will see Monica McGoldrick in action as she masterfully conducts an initial interview with a new client, demonstrating the step-by-step process of gathering historical information, creating the genogram, and contextualizing the client’s presenting problem within a multigenerational family systems framework.

John is a 39-year-old African-American graphic designer who is having marital problems. Mystified and distressed by his pattern of distancing from his wife who is six months pregnant, he desperately wants to understand why he is pulling away. McGoldrick’s focused interest in John’s family story gently guides him in a thorough investigation of the social and historical context of his current struggles. With McGoldrick as an ally, John makes fascinating discoveries as he uncovers surprising coincidences, poignant tragedies and inspiring sources of resilience.

Watching McGoldrick engage a client in exploring the connection between his presenting problem and his family-of-origin issues is a treat in and of itself, but a bonus feature of this video is following McGoldrick’s step-by-step creation of John’s genogram on the spot. It makes for a compelling and highly educational experience.

By watching this video, you will learn how to:
  • Utilize the genogram to place clients’ presenting problems in a historical and social context
  • Respond when a client resists exploring family issues
  • Explain to clients why exploring family background is relevant

What therapists are saying…

"To watch Monica McGoldrick’s elegant interview is to witness the client’s life unfold before him like a family map whose many creases had so hidden his emotional location from view that he was directionless – adrift from his wife and about to be born daughter. Through McGoldrick’s careful, respectful and strength-based inquiry, his context emerges in ways that surprise and give meaning to the array of forces that have shaped him. Most importantly, the client now has actionable choices in the present to create a new destiny for the future. Therapists, teachers of family therapy and students cannot help but be enriched by watching this video."

-- Jay Lappin, LCSW, Family Therapy Director, Centrapc
"This powerful video is a must for any clinician, educator, or supervisor considering the use of genograms in any aspect of their work. McGoldrick, through her insight and sage clinical wisdom, not only walks the viewer through the basics of constructing an effective genogram, but she also demonstrates how to ask skillful, probing but respectful questions that invite the client to examine previously unexplored but highly significant family of origin territory. I know of no other comparable resource in the field that seamlessly displays the nuances of the genogram construction process while simultaneously providing a hands-on demonstration of its clinical relevance and effectiveness. Whether you are a passionate adherent of family therapy or a casual follower, you will find this video to be an extremely useful resource."

-- Kenneth V. Hardy, PhD, Professor, Couple and Family Therapy, Drexel University
In Depth
CE Test
McGoldrick is a master at facilitating awareness of coincidences that are just at the margins of consciousness. On the surface, John’s presenting problem doesn’t seem related to his family of origin, and he is skeptical when McGoldrick asks questions about his siblings, parents, and grandparents that at first seem irrelevant. But as the session proceeds and the therapeutic alliance builds, McGoldrick and John become co-explorers on a journey into his family’s story that uncovers surprising links between his past and present. It is remarkable to watch how John shifts from being defensive and guarded to open and curious, enabling him to understand himself in a larger context and shed new light on his underlying fears that are keeping him from loving his wife in the way that he wants to. This requisite curiosity is possible because of McGoldrick’s exceptional ability to stay closely connected to John throughout the session, honoring his pace and gently encouraging him without coming across as pushy or disrespectful. It’s impressive to see how she is able to quickly build such a solid alliance even as she takes notes and creates the genogram live in the session. Her care and interest in helping him make sense of his problem and find new solutions really shine through.

In addition to the fascinating therapy session that includes step-by-step demonstration of how to create a genogram on the spot, this video also includes an interview that Victor Yalom conducts with Monical McGoldrick, giving viewers a deeper understanding of McGoldrick’s approach and her reflections on the session. Throughout the session McGoldrick also offers voiceover commentary on what is happening and the thinking behind her interventions. All of these features make for a comprehensive and enlightening learning experience.

Length of video: 01:53:00

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in All Regions

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-330-8

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-331-6

Monica McGoldrick, M.A., LCSW, Ph.D. (Honorary), the Director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, New Jersey, is also Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Smith for her many contributions to the field. Among many other awards, she has received the American Family Therapy Academy Award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice. She has written and spoken widely on a variety of topics including culture, class, gender, the family life cycle, loss, genograms, remarried families, and siblings. Three of her books have become best-selling classics of their publishers: The Changing Family Life Cycle, 3rd edition; Ethnicity and Family Therapy, 3rd edition; and Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, 3rd edition. See her website for more information on Monica McGoldrick and The Multicultural Family Institute.

See all Monica McGoldrick videos.

CE credits: 6

Learning Objectives:

  • Utilize the genogram to place clients’ presenting problems in a historical and social context
  • Respond when a client resists exploring family issues
  • Explain to clients why exploring family background is relevant
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