Friday, February 1, 2013

Technology Ecomaps


Genograms and ecomaps can help families and therapists identify patterns visually. During the assessment process, identifying the technology structure within the household may bring new awareness of family issues. This family brought their daughter in due to her meeting a guy on the Internet. She was going to meet up with him at the mall, he was 18 years old. Dad happened to walk by her bedroom and heard some inappropriate talking from his daughter. While he was listening he learned of this meeting. When the parents looked him up on her Facebook they found out he was 18 years old. The parents called the police. Since no inappropriate physical behavior took place the police suggested counseling.

As the technology ecomap illustrates, the daughter is isolated in her use of technology from the rest of the family. Her mother understands technology enough for practical uses. The father and son bond over role playing games online. The father, while technologically experienced, spends a large amount of time on World of Warcraft. Thickness of lines denotes amount of time devoted to those devices. Her parents are unaware of the types of apps she has on her phone. Snapchat is a new app for pictures and messages. Anything sent only appears for a short time, then it is deleted. Perfect for sexting. The daughter admitted sending 'sexy' pictures to the boy, but "not with too much skin." They met on a role playing site called Twilight Moon Academy she joined. She liked the name of the site because it is similar to the teen books she reads called "The Twilight Series." Her parents were unaware of her being on an adult role playing site or of her Snapchats.

Technology ecomaps outline all areas of technology the families utilize.  These are the questions I use to explore the significance of technology in the family system.

1. Which types of technology does each member use?
2. How much time does each member spend on each type of technology?
3. What top 3 programs/apps/games do the family members use on each technology?
4. What kinds of relationships are formed in the different areas?
5. What do other family members feel about your using ____________?
6. How much access do you have to each device (for children)?
7. Do your parents ever take away access for discipline? Explain.

These questions are supplemented with a technology assessment. I will address the assessment in a different post. Ecomaps may change as the system grows to trust the therapist. More types of technology uses/problems may come to light with adults or adolescents. The important part is to be open to technology and how it may impact family systems in addition to the other issues manifesting as primary problems.

(*This example has been modified to protect confidentiality)