Tools for Family Assessment

Family assessment tools identify the strengths and protective qualities of the family unit and are used to evaluate the environment in which children live. While strengths relate to positive attributes such as displays of affection and financial stability, protective qualities pertain to shielding the child from negatives both internal and external. Family assessment tools bring to light the strengths and weaknesses of family dynamics, allowing members to consciously increase the influence of nurturing attributes while curtailing harmful ones.


Genograms offer a pictorial representation similar to a family tree with hereditary patterns and psychological proclivities included. Tracing physiological and psychological patterns across generations, genograms map out health risks and behavior patterns that may predispose a person to certain conduct or emotions. As a family assessment tool, genograms may trace divorce rate, child abuse, infidelity, gambling and other predilections that harm family dynamics and disintegrate the unit.

Kinetic Family Drawing Technique

The kinetic family drawing technique evaluates family dynamics by studying the picture a child draws of his family. Unlike other figure drawing methods intended to assess self-perception, kinetic family drawings represent the child’s implicit attitude towards his entire family and his place in it. Such factors as the placement of family members, their exclusion or distancing, the absence of body parts and the closeness of the representation to real life combine to render a reflection of the family dynamics and health.

Thematic Appreciation Test

Defined as a projective evaluation, the thematic appreciation test studies the subjective projections of an individual on a set of ambiguous images. Consisting of a series of cards, the test requires the subject to invent a story based on the people pictured in the cards. As a family assessment tool, the invented story reveals the human relationships and expectations of the person tested. In addition, the manner, voice and posture of the speaker reveal his emotional reactions to the images on the cards.

Parent Child Interaction Assessment-II

The PCIA-II test studies the interaction of parents and elementary school-aged children as they play at visiting an imaginary zoo. The videotaped sessions provide a family assessment tool for the study of parental and filial interaction. Such factors as disruption of play and parental control, self-reliance or dependence, parental interest or disengagement aid in evaluating the family dynamics and can predict future behavior patterns should current relationships remain unchanged.

Parent Child Early Relational Assessment

The Parent Child Early Relational Assessment test videotapes parents with pre-school-aged children engaged in four distinct activities. The test begins with feeding, a familiar task, followed by a known game and a novel one, which requires teaching. Finally, a short separation between the child and parent completes the test 1. The study of family dynamics across this range of activities provides a clear family assessment tool for current relationships and a projection of expected future ones.