How to draw a Genogram

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As a Student Doctor at the University of Queensland, I was offered the opportunity to shadow the Adolescent Team at The Child and Youth Mental Health Service (or CYMHS) at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. This was an amazing opportunity to observe some really important work in two of my special interest areas: Paediatrics and Psychiatry. The attachment really drove home that patients don’t exist in isolation, and how this is particularly true for children. The surrounding family system strongly dictates how well they will fare once they leave the hospital.

As part of this attachment I was asked to prepare and present Genograms for every patient at the weekly Multidisciplinary Team meeting. As I began to interview family members in order to gather the required 3 generations of family history, it became clear to me that a small diagram could represent and quickly convey what would otherwise have taken several pages of text. Genograms provide a wealth of insight at a glance, can help align patients with their most appropriate care, and are relatively easy to draw once you know how. They are a mainstay of Paediatrics for a reason.

When I first came across Genograms as a student, attempting to create one was very confusing and a little overwhelming. There are also surprisingly few reference materials available to aid you along the way. So in order to make this task a little easier for the next student, I put together this little video. I hope you find it useful.

– Daniel Bakhsh, Student Doctor, Doctor of Medicine Program, University of Queensland

About the authors

  • Daniel is currently a final year Student Doctor at the University of Queensland, as well as a certified Australian Lawyer. He has spent a number of years working with NGOs in executive and communications roles, and has taken a keen interest in medical education. He also moonlights as a singer for the Queensland Medical Jazz.

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