A major tool used in my counseling program is the genogram, which is basically a family tree. It is typically used during the first few sessions to diagram a client’s family (which could be an individual, couple, or family) back at least three generations. The point is to help clients see intergenerational patterns. They’re pretty cool.
In class this week, we talked about the critical genogram, which is a genogram that also depicts a client’s particular social location (related to gender, sexual orientation, class, race, ability, age, religion, etc.) and how larger systems (like patriarchy, racism, etc.), have influenced the client’s experience of their social location and presenting problems.
So I decided to draw one depicting my perception of how larger systems of patriarchy, monogamy, and religion have influenced my experience of my relational orientation, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The main messages I have received from those larger systems include “Women are possessions, property, need to be owned, controlled, and contained,” “Sexuality is sinful, immoral, unhealthy, wrong, bad,” and “Female sexuality is especially sinful, immoral, unhealthy, wrong, bad.” While I have largely cut myself off from those larger systems, I am still influenced by them because of my relationships with my family, larger community, and the messages I receive from media. I experience relatively integrated relationships with my relational and sexual orientations (I feel really comfortable identifying as queer and having an open/poly relationship), but my relationship with my gender identity (woman) feels more complicated. Because I can’t completely separate stripping from patriarchy, my identity as a woman and my enjoyment and participation in the strip club culture feels complicated and richly complex.
I am excited thinking about constructing genograms with my future clients, especially sexuality genograms, which involves questions about sexual history, familial messages about sex and love, and experiences in current romantic relationships. I’m also really excited thinking about creating a way to construct and use a genogram for poly folks and families.
Here is my sexuality critical genogram 🙂 I’m the pink circle.