Sometimes the old ways are the best!
I reckon family trees are under-rated as a tool for helping us in our work with troubled kids. Here’s why…
6 Reasons we should keep using family tress…
Like most people, I find that I have phases for tools that I use in work.
Things come and go and the ones that we find most useful usually stick. Usually.
But occasionally we let something slip that we really should hang on to.
Family tress are just such a thing!
Back to basics…
There was a time when family trees were all the rage. Then they waned. Then they came back… And on it goes.
For me, though, they’ve always been a winner.
Maybe it’s because some of us think in pictures rather than words or concepts. But I can absorb and analyse information much more easily if it’s in the form of a diagram.
Family trees are exactly that – a visual representation of a family.
Why we should keep using family trees:
I’m sure there are tons of reasons, but here are a few:
– Seeing aids memory – as we’ve said, people think in different ways. But one thing is for sure for all of us: if we see something, we’re more likely to remember it than if we just read about it. Family trees capture key information about the kids we work with. This information is important to our decisions, assessments and intervention plans. Not to mention our conversations with the children themselves. If we can map all this in a family tree it’ll be a lot easier to remember it. Remember it and we’re onto a winner.
– Attuned listening – when talking to children and young people, having the family tree (in our heads) means we’re able to quickly understand the links between the people the child may talk about. The family tree diagram itself can be a great way to help a young person tell us about their family, their past or what they are currently thinking. Drawing one up with a child can be a brilliant way to start off on a case and get their perspective – even if we know the information already.
– Complexity simplified – recently I’ve been reminded again just how convoluted and enmeshed some families are! A clear view of such families in the form of a diagram has a way of taming it somehow. A way of making it simpler. It also acts as an easy and quick reference guide if/when we want to check something out later on.
– Efficient communication – we all work in partnership with lots of colleagues from other agencies. Using a family tree as a way of focussing attention, relieves us of having to state and re-state basic information and frees us to get down to the stuff that really counts.
– Context setting – regardless of the reasons for our involvement with a child or young person, there is always a bigger picture. Their family is the major part of that picture, whether they live there still, or not. A family tree on the front of the file (in our diary, briefcase, handbag or wherever) helps keep us mindful of this. Even though we may not have much to do with the wider family directly, the kids we work with will be very aware of them. Bearing this in mind keeps us empathic around this very sensitive area.
– Child-centred practice – having a family tree at the centre of a discussion has a way of keeping everyone’s focus on what matters most – the child and their family. It can help keep us from being distracted into things that matter less! I’m a great believer in having a family tree out on the table for everyone to see and for the discussion to gather around; this keeps the child and their family central – literally!
How to make a family tree using a free Google app…
Below is a video I made as part my work for the YJB. But I thought it would be useful for you guys to have access to it.
It shows you how to use a free google app – LucidChart – to make a family tree.
It’s brilliantly easy to use and produces clear diagrams that are easy to edit, store, send and print. Enjoy!
Check out my other videos here.
The use of family trees is still pretty widespread. That’s a good thing, in my view. But I think we could make even more use of them.
In a later post I’ll be suggesting a couple of ways we can be a bit more creative in our use of this old favourite…
What do you think?…
- How do you use family trees? What are the advantages of using them in practice?
- Please let me know your thoughts… Leave a comment below or click here.
Related previous posts:
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© Jonny Matthew 2016