Ecomap is the visual representation of different spheres of an individual’s life and his relation to them. It is advisable for every person involved in the counseling within the social work to have one. Refugees and migrants can also have an ecomap for one person or the whole family. Social services or nurses will examine them whenever they need to.
The idea of ecomaps belongs to Ann Hartman, who was a sociologist of the 20th century. In 1975 she decided to create a tool helping social workers to know their wards better. And do it in a short period. She put circles with various individual’s or family’s connections to the external world on one paper. The client was in the center of this drawing, meaning he played a key role in the whole process. The quality of those relationships was also stated there. That’s how the ecomap was invented. Since that time, ecomaps have become an indispensable part of the social work procedure.
Many psychotherapists use them during initial sessions to create a clear picture of the person’s social issues. They can ask clients particular questions from an ecomap to know them better. In the future, it will help them to build a trusting relationship with their clients, leaning on the ecomap results.
Drawing an ecomap and sharing it with nurses, therapists, and social workers might be a tough decision. Not every person wants to show his private information to anyone. However, it can make life easier for both parts of the social work process. Note that before deciding whether to draw your ecomap or not.
In reality, the information specified in your ecomap is quite common. Here’s a list of social life items you need to cover there.
You also need to specify the quality of your relationships in all these spheres. You can do it by drawing lines of different shapes and thicknesses. We’ll cover it later in the next section.
Covering these questions, you allow social workers and nurses to know the climate in your family. They can conclude whether the boundaries between the environment and family and/or individual are closed or opened. Open boundaries mean there’s a healthy atmosphere within the family itself. Meanwhile, closed boundaries show the intense atmosphere within the family members and also their mistrust of other people and the external world. Mostly, people growing in such an atmosphere have depression and become entangled.
Examining family’s or individual’s ecomaps, learning their relationships and mood towards the world and others, therapists can create an individual program of building trusting relationships between these family members. They can help individuals to open themselves to new social contacts and experiences.
1. Prepare a white piece of paper of the appropriate size. Write down the date of the ecomap drawing.
2. Draw a big circle in the middle of it and write an individual’s name in there. Or, if you’re drawing an ecomap for the family, draw circles for every family member with their names in them (squares to males and circles for women).
3. Add smaller circles around the main one and fill in individual’s friends, social contacts, entities, and groups. For example, these groups can include churches, educational institutes, workplaces.
4. Decide what kind of relationships an individual has with all those spheres. Types and thicknesses of lines depend on it. Dashed lines represent an unstable connection; thick lines highlight a positive and solid connection; crossed lines mean a tense connection; arrows along lines show the direction energy and resources flow.
5. Use different lines to highlight the relationships of an individual towards the church, school, welfare support agency, work, and other environmental systems. If you create an ecomap for the family, using lines show relationships between family members and their connection to the systems mentioned before. Try to highlight as many systems as possible.
6. Add the legend explaining the lines and symbols’ meanings.