Hans-Werner Gessmann

The family board as a tool and method in systemic therapy was developed in 1978 by a working group led by Kurt Ludewig in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy of the University Hospital Hamburg Eppendorf, parallel to the emergence of systemic therapy.

The development of this method was the result of the need to find a method that could document the complexity of progressions and outcomes in family therapies as unadulterated as possible.

The family board is a square wooden board measuring 50 x 50 cm. The surface of the board is used to set up wooden figures. A few centimeters away from the edge is a line that is used in the constellation work as a boundary. For the installation wooden figures of different size and shape, that is square, hexagonal and round, used.

The family board is used for the three-dimensional representation of relationships in families or other social systems. It can therefore also be used in individual consulting, supervision or organizational consulting.

The family board gives the possibility of a subjective representation of the structure and functioning of a system and offers the constructor many possibilities to deal with his situation and possibilities of change.

In order to take an anamnesis or an inventory with the family board, it makes sense to consider the basic levels of analysis of a system: structure, communication, rules.

For the collection of data, fixed features can be assigned to the figures. So the round figures are used for the female and the square for the male persons.

For the therapeutic work with the family board, the individual approaches of systemic therapy can be transferred to it. Here, the therapist should let the client decide which characters should represent which persons.

Although the family board is not a therapy approach of its own, but rather a valuable, complementary tool that can fill theoretical ideas with life and integrate emotional aspects well.