Community Resource Finders

Genograms and ecomaps are tools that help identify an individual’s social capital by making hidden ties visible within immediate and extended family groups. Used as far back as the early twentieth century, they have become mainstays of a traditional social work toolkit. The recent development of genogram and eco-map generating software and other technical aids run the risk of marginalizing the use of these tools as a means of leveling power imbalances between social workers and their ‘clients’, and in empowering individuals and family groups in identifying helping relationships and finding alternative and more sustainable solutions.

When used as participatory tools, genograms and ecomaps:

  • help individuals in widening their social networks of support — both within and outside their extended family group
  • can be used to build rapport between family members, when used creatively
  • encourage people to take community workers on a tour of their lives
  • assist community workers in gaining a more in-depth understanding of someone’s relationships and social networks in  a more creative, engaging and empowering way.
Type of Resource finder Mapping immediate and extended family Mapping other social networks Identification of other life world experts Ability to express closeness of relationship

1. Genogram


2. Eco-map 

Download training slides: Social capital, genogram and ecomaps

The Genogram

The genogram is a pictorial display of an individual’s family relationships and helps identify resources in a person’s immediate and extended family group. In drawing networks in a chart, each individual in the person’s life is represented by a symbol, and is used to represent an entire host of resources that can be tapped on.

A genogram is also powerful tool for building rapport provided it is drawn by a young person or adult who we consider as being the expert of his/her own life-world.


  • are potentially able to level out power relationships to an extent, particularly when caseworkers are able to build rapport by sharing anecdotes whilst drawing similarities in family relationships between themselves and the people they partner;
  • help initiate bonding and strengthen relationships between young people and their caregivers. Ever so often children may have little knowledge of members of their extended family circles. Having them sit in the kitchen with a mother, grandmother or a respect family elder may get an engaging dialogue started. It is a process that allows young people to respect their family structure as it enables older generations to celebrate shared histories, and share in what they feel to be important;
  • are a useful way of exploring family dynamics and relationships;    
  • are used to identify other possible life-world experts for strengths storming;
  • help professionals gain a well-rounded picture of a person once s/he is framed within a natural social setting—as a part of a wider family group and a community.

Download handout: working with genograms

The Ecomap

Unlike genograms, ecomaps are much broader in their scope. It is a tool flexible and inclusive enough to accommodate non-relatives. As a sketch or drawing, ecomaps reveal an individual’s entire social network, encompassing both formal as well as informal social networks. These networks may include groups as diverse as colleagues, school staff, family members, close friends, and members of a sports team.   Moreover, unlike the genogram, the ecomap enables people to illustrate the degree of closeness s/he shares with the different people or networks represented.

Download handout: working with ecomaps

Family Group Conferencing

Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is a commonsensical approach to restorative justice that originated in New Zealand. It is a voluntary, consensual decision making meeting to empower the family group and extended support network of a child or youth. Here, the family group comes together to create and implement a care plan that resolves issues around anti-social behaviour, youth offending, and keeping children safe and well cared for.  
This module is intended as an introductory guide for people wanting to become FGC facilitators. 

Download FGC training slides