Marital and Family Therapy

(Source: Thomas, M. (1992). An Introduction to marital and family therapy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall)

  1. Can you tell me the names and ages of the family members for at least three generations on both sides of the family?
  2. When were these individuals born, married, partnered, separated, or divorced? Give specific dates including day and year, if possible.
  3. Who passed away in the family? Of what? When were they born, married, partnered, separated, or divorced?
  4. What jobs did family members hold?
  5. What were the educational levels of family members?
  6. What were the ethnic/cultural and religious backgrounds of family members? How have these traditions been passed on in the family?
  7. Where did family members live? When and where did they move? For what reasons?
  8. How did people get along in the family? Who was close to whom? Did anyone not speak to another family member? What happened in these cases?
  9. Which family members were successful at what they did? Which family members struggled with success?


10. What additional similarities or differences are there between a member or members of one generation to the next? What differences are there be between a member or members of one generation to the next? Who influenced whom in your family, either as an inspiration or to do the opposite?

Questions to Answer in Writing a Family Analysis of a Genogram

  1. How healthy were family members in your genogram? What were the most common health problems (both mental and physical) on each side of your family? What did family members do to prevent or treat such problems?
  2. What type(s) of family structure (i.e., single, parent, nuclear, blended, etc.), were repeated in the genogram? How did this structure related to definitions of who was considered family?
  3. What family themes have been carried down through the generations?
  4. What role has culture played in your family? How important did family members see the role of race? Gender? Class? Ethnicity? Disability? Sexual orientation? Religion? Other cultural factors? How did the family define itself compared to other cultural groups?
  5. What occupations occur most frequently in your family?
  6. What stages of family life cycles have been easier for your family to cope with? Most difficult to cope with.
  7. What life events have affected family functioning throughout the generations of your family?
  8. What patterns are repeated such as educational or work success, religious commitment, alcohol or drug use, or other behaviors?
  9. Where are the triangles present in your genogram? Where are the relationships close, distant, conflicted, or fused? Where are there emotional cut-offs?
  10. How large were the families in your genogram? Do some families stand out as larger or smaller when looking at the genogram? What stresses might have occurred due to family size or family imbalance?
  11. According to systems theory, you are part of a dynamic active organism, both in terms of your current family and your family of origin. What could you do to change any patterns that disturb you? What would you like to pass on to your children or future generations of your family someday?