A Family Genogram Workbook: Tenth printing!

We have just received the delivery of the tenth printing of A Family Genogram Workbook by Galindo, Boomer, and Reagan. We’re pleased with its success (and its steady sales!). We have a few on hand that qualify for discounts, so if you’re interested in a copy order from us soon. (While the book is available through Amazon.com, they don’t give the discounts we provide). Multiple-copies discounts are available from Educational Consultants. Complimentary review copies are available to instructors for course adoption.

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If you have read or used A Family Genogram Workbook consider writing a review on the Amazon.com site. Below is an interview with the authors that appeared in the Leadership in Ministry Workshops newsletter:

Leadership in Ministry (LIM) faculty members, Elaine Boomer and Israel Galindo, with Don Reagan, a former LIM participant who went on to study Bowen Family Systems theory at the Georgetown Family Center, have written a new resource on family genograms. The resource is titled A Family Genogram Workbook and will be available on Amazon.com. We asked the authors about the new resource.

DR: Don Reagan, EB: Elaine Boomer, IG: Israel Galindo.

LIM: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

DR: Well, the idea was Israel’s. When he mentioned it to me I had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. It made sense because there was nothing like it out there. Israel said to me that some people had asked him to recommend a good introductory book on the genogram and he couldn’t think of one. So, voila; an idea was born.

IG: Yes, three people in as many weeks asked if there was an introductory, easy-to-use resource on genograms to introduce laypersons to the tool. I couldn’t recall seeing such a resource. In a rare moment of lucidity (or hubris) it occurred to me that I could probably come up with one.

DR: Then there’s the curious part about Israel wanting me to co-author with him and Elaine. I guess you might say that Israel wanted the various views and creativity that would come from such a diverse team. But I think a better explanation is Israel’s just crazy.

IG: Yes, that’s true. But I’m feeling much better now.

EB: What can I say? Israel is the paramount idea-man! I think I’m in the trio because they needed the sage advice of a woman to make it complete!

LIM: Why did you agree to write this book?

DR: I believe the genogram is the best doorway into the fascinating and valuable world of family systems theory. A genogram is real and takes the study of family emotional process from the theoretical into very familiar territory. Family systems theory has been immensely helpful to me in navigating the emotional waters of my family, work and congregation. It has helped me get clear about who I am and what I believe. And I believe knowledge of family systems concepts can do the same for others. In addition, I believe working on our selves and the emotional systems we belong to is a lifetime project. There’s always more to know. Although I’ve been doing systems work for over 10 years, I felt working on a book like this would generate a deeper understanding of my personal systems world. I was right.

IG: I agree. The process of writing about the issues related to one’s family of origin brought some new insights for me. For example, working through the chapter “The 20 Questions To Ask About Your Family” helped clarify in my mind what was most important to explore about emotional process in my own family.

EB: Right away, I loved the idea! Like Don and Israel, creating and interpreting my family genogram has been the cornerstone of my personal growth. In coaching others I’ve seen how working with a genogram can affect life in so many positive ways. It’s simply the best way I know to discover how any of us came to be the way we are and provides a tool for better functioning. Of course, there’s the very small incentive of having my name in print as an author it’s such a Enneagram 4 thing!

LIM: Why did you choose a workbook format?

IG: We wanted something that would get people into creating a genogram right away. The tool is intuitive enough so as not to require too much explication. Also, I think people gain immediate insight into their families by just creating a genogram.

DR: Yes, we wanted to intentionally distinguish this from a book to be read only. We wanted to be clear that a genogram is work. It takes one from the abstract to the practical, the real and the personal. We wanted to inspire the reader to pick up their pencil and start drawing because the real learning is in the doing.

EB: So often just reading something doesn’t produce results. Using a workbook format encourages the reader to start doing while the enthusiasm is high and thoughts are stimulated.

LIM: Who is this book written for? Who will benefit from this book?

IG: This book can have a wide audience. It is primarily for persons who are beginning to work on their family of origin from a systems perspective through the genogram. But it can be a great teaching tool for a workshop, retreat, or class on family systems theory (we’re already using it in one program, in and various courses at the seminary). One pastor mentioned that he plans to use it in his premarital counseling sessions. He already uses the genogram, so here’s a resource to he can give couples to jump start the process of asking systems questions about their families and their future family. I can envision this being a handy tool for therapists and their clients.

EB: Absolutely! Several of my colleagues are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to purchase these workbooks to use with clients in their practices. I draw a simple genogram for all clients I see. As I begin to see emotional process patterns I visually show the client the triangles and multigenerational patterns that are influential in their lives. There is something powerful about visually seeing this as opposed to just hearing about it. Clients who go on to work independently on their genogram and continue coaching will progress much faster in changing their functioning. I’m excited to have this resource to offer clients.

LIM: How is this book different from other books on the genogram?

DR: Well first, there are not that many books out there devoted to the genogram. The few that are seem to be written more for the trained family therapist with longwinded explanations of theory to slog through. They also often contain examples that are not that relevant to a general audience. This format can sometimes make you forget what the book is really about. Our book touches on theory of course, but the meat of it is about creating your genogram and answering some probing questions to help interpret that genogram.

IG: We’ve tried to make the material accessible for the novice to systems theory. We’ve made it as accurate as we can related to the concepts of the theory, but with a minimal of jargon and from a non-clinical perspective. Essentially, this is a learning tool for insight into one’s family, not just families in general.

LIM: Do you use the genogram in your work or personal life?

IG: The more I work on my family genogram the more insight I gain into myself and the way I function in relationships. The most fruitful conversations in my marriage and in my relationship with my children have been those exploring issues related to our family genogram.

DR: I use the genogram every day whether it’s at home, at work or in my congregation. Initially, I focused on my family but I have also found the genogram to be very useful in understanding the emotional process at work and in my congregation. Such genograms reveal how amazingly similar work/congregation systems are to a family.

EB: As I said earlier, my genogram has been the cornerstone of my personal growth work. In addition, like with Don, it has helped me to understand my church and workplace better. As a therapist, it’s very important to keep my personal issues out of the therapy room in order to do my best work. Whenever I’m stuck with a client, it’s always about me and my emotional process related to my family of origin. The answer is always in the genogram! Even though I’ve been working with my genogram for many years, I continue to find new ways of understanding myself. It’s a bit like the layers of an onion, peel off one layer, and behold there is yet another!

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About igalindo

Israel Galindo is Professor and Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary.
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