Ethical Use of Assessments – Genograms

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Assessment is based on one ultimate goal which is to solve a problem. It is an important aspect of psychology that requires strict adherence to the administrative code of conduct and rules that govern psychology (American Psychological Association, 2002). Some of these standards include substantiating findings on reports and recommendations (American Psychological Association, 2002). Psychologists are also expected to be assessment tools in the manner and purpose that is appropriate (American Psychological Association, 2002). In psychology, only assessment techniques that have been tested and proved to be valid and reliable can be used.

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A Genogram is a pictographic illustration of family relationships as well as its medical accounts (Gregory, 1998). Unlike a family tree, Genograms represent a visual display of hereditary patterns including psychological factors that influence relationships (Dishion & Stormshak, 2007). This representation can be used to track repetitive patterns in a family hence giving vital genetic predispositions. Genograms have gained popularity in a number of fields including medical practice, social work and psychology.

Genograms contained detailed information on a hereditary pattern of a family. They not only show the family members and how they are related by blood, but also show the individual social interaction in families. A good example of contents in a Genogram is that while it shows that John is your uncle, it also gives detailed information on his family and their interaction. For instance, it gives information about the schools his children attend, how they relate to their parents and their social behaviors and much more details concerning their lives (American Psychological Association, 2002).

Genograms will give details about the conduct of your family members and behavior for instance if your cousin is a drug addict or your other cousin who is got pregnant in college. It is the broad scope of a Genogram that enables psychologists to track repetitive characteristics and predominant hereditary patterns (Van, Dunlap & Shore, 2008). In a Genogram, relationships can be distinguished by the use of color-coded lines. This helps in distinguishing the different ways through which an individual relates to the members represented in it. Individuals can be related through the family, social or emotional relationship among others (Dishion & Stormshak, 2007).

A Genogram seeks to represent and record family history by engaging every member of that family individually (American Psychological Association, 2002). This can be useful in studying facts about a family including marriage stability in a family, naming patterns, the general level of academic pursuit, tendencies for early pregnancies to mention but a few (American Psychological Association, 2002). In psychology, Genograms are helpful as they help psychologists to view a client in a broader context putting into consideration all the surrounding factors. Family inclination and cultural influence have great impacts on the psychological make-up of a person hence considering these factors in psychology is virtually imperative (American Psychological Association, 2002).

Preventive measures can be deliberated when particular patterns are detected using the Genogram. When a psychologist studies the hereditary patterns of an individual, it becomes easy to plan and take precautions to avoid a repetitive behavior or undesirable characteristics. For instance, in a family where early pregnancies are reported, then an individual can take precautionary measures not to engage in the practices that lead to that. By studying the patterns that lead to certain mistakes done in families, one can avoid falling into the same trap. Psychologists find it easy to assess a problem of clients by using their genealogical history.

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The American Association For Marriage And Family Therapy is an institution that safeguards the welfare of family members. There are stipulated ethical codes of conduct that psychologists are obligated to follow while offering their services to clients. As stipulated by the AAMAF, performing a Genogram assessment requires a non-discriminatory approach whether on the basis of status, disability, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or other factors (Dishion & Stormshak, 2007). Therapists are required to obtain consent from a client but also are obligated to ensure that he or she fully understands the procedures involved.

A client is entitled to recognize the procedures he or she is about to undergo so that an informed decision can be made. This definitely will include some risks as well as benefits accrued from following the treatment procedure. This allows a client to express consent freely and without external influence. Other ethical codes of conduct include avoiding sexual relations with clients, or their close relatives. This may have significant and adverse effects on the process of treatment and may lead to termination of contract. Therapists are prohibited from using their profession for their own interests (Compass & Gotlib, 2002).

The relationship between therapists and clients may continue even after treatment but there have to be clear indications that client is benefiting from such(Compass & Gotlib, 2002). In addition, it is unethical and against the assessment code of conduct to abandon a client who is on treatment without making transitional arrangements on how he or she will continue receiving help. There are standards of maintaining client’s confidentiality but also there are limitations to the same. A client is entitled to know the limitations of his or her confidentiality.

When closing or concluding a practice, or in the event, a therapist wants to move to a different location, ways that ensure confidentiality should be used in order not to dispose of any of the client’s records (Compass & Gotlib, 2002). This however has to be in a legally acceptable manner in a particular jurisdiction. Psychologists are obligated to display high levels of competence and professionalism (Compass & Gotlib, 2002). Marriage and family therapists must be informed of the applicable laws that govern marriage and family as a unit. In addition, integrity on personal levels is very important as it influences clinical judgment. Therefore, psychologists must first use their knowledge to solve their problems before reaching out to others (Compass & Gotlib, 2002).

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In their practice, psychologists must avoid at all costs any event that may lead to conflicting interests among the clients and the rest of the family. Exploiting a client is prohibited and it contravenes the ethics and code of conduct in psychology. Therefore , psychologists are responsible for keeping accurate and adequate clinical records for future references but yet a higher level of confidentiality must be observed. These among other ethical obligations create a harmonious interaction between psychologists and clients.

Upholding these ideals is quite important for the success and the integrity of psychologists. Genogram assessment has offered a broad approach in dealing with psychosocial problems hence creating a wide range of opportunities to solve marriage and family issues.


American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and Code of Conduct. American Psychologist, 57 (12), 1060-1073.

Compass, B. E., & Gotlib, I. H. (2002). Introduction to clinical psychology: Science and Practice. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Dishion, T. J., & Stormshak, E. A. (2007). Intervening in children’s lives: An ecological, Family-centered approach to mental health care. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Gregory, R. J. (1998). Clinical assessment and diagnosis. S. Cullari (Ed.), Foundations of clinical psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Van, W., Dunlap, L. L., & Shore, M. F. (2008). Psychological Testing Across The Life Span. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson (Prentice Hall).

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 15). Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 15). Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms.

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"Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms." PsychologyWriting, 15 Jan. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms'. 15 January.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms." January 15, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms." January 15, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Ethical Use of Assessments - Genograms." January 15, 2022.