This is an intervention that should definitely be in your play therapy toolbox! I use this intervention with almost every child that I work with because I find out such valuable information about family dynamics. This is particularly helpful with children in foster care, children of divorce, children with multiple homes, and children who have lost a loved one. This intervention is derived from the magnificent Eliana Gil from her book “Helping Abused and Traumatized Children.”
Here is what you need for the intervention:
First, introduce the intervention to your client. I typically explain that we are creating a genogram of the family, similar to a family tree. We are going to work together to identify all of the important family members in their lives. Next, have the child choose a coloring utensil for girls and one for boys.
Have the child identify the important family members in their life. The individuals that the child identifies as family can give a great perspective into the client’s mind. Family may include friends, teachers, foster family, pets, and even you the counselor!
Have either you or the child draw circles to represent females and squares to represent males. Also add the names of the family members on the page.
Next, tell the child that they will be choosing miniatures to represent all of their family members. I currently have a huge collection of miniatures (think of those little figurines that come in a McDonald’s Happy Meal). I recommend going to thrift stores or dollar stores to inexpensively foster your collection. That being said, don’t get hung up on having enough miniatures. Kids will make it work!
Have the child place the miniature on the circle or square that represents their family member.
Ask question to the child to have them reflect on their genogram. For example, “If the turtle could say something to the police office what would they say?,” “I notice that all of the miniatures are facing the same way, I wonder why that is,” “tell me why you chose the dinosaur to represent your father”…..and so on and so forth!
I truly think this is such a great intervention and hope that you think so too! It can be so helpful and provide great insight into how your client views the world and their family system.
Have you used the Play Genogram intervention before? Tell me about it below!
I will be taking some time off of the blog for the next few weeks to focus on studying for the NCMHCE. Be back in the summer! Until next time, Play On!