An ecomap is an organised chart representing an individual's connections to other people and/or organisations. An ecomap visually shows the strengths and weaknesses in relationships that have causes and effects on the person's behaviour. Typically, you type your name encircled in the middle of your program's page and draw resources and systems around your life that can affect you. You can draw an ecomap like a map of the solar system in which you are the sun and the other people or institutions are the planets gravitating around you. You can use any program that enables drawing shapes, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Windows Document, GIMP, Corel Draw or Inkcape.
- Skill level:
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Draw a circle at the centre of the page using the "Shape" tool. Type your name on it as well as your age, profession and hobbies using the "Text" tool.
Draw the people who live around you. Draw squares for females and circles for males. Use the "Shape" tool and draw the shapes close to the middle circle. Label each shape and write the age of each family member, their professions and hobbies, and their relationships to you.
Draw other shapes around the family members to represent the people who are not part of the family. You can decide to include organisations such as your church and its members or your place of employment. Draw these organisations with a triangle and label them.
Draw a line connecting the central circle and the other shapes. Thicken the lines for strong relationships. Use dashed lines for weak relationships. Use dotted lines to express conflicting relationships. Draw lines between people in your ecomap, too. Use the same symbols.
Draw arrows along the lines. An arrow coming towards you means you profit from this relationship. An arrow pointing away from you means the other person or organisation is profiting from your relationship. Two arrows on a line going in opposite directions means both parties profit from the relationship.
Tips and warnings
- You can use colours to separate people and organisations or draw all the people from the same organisation the same colour. For example, blue for neighbours and yellow for co-workers. You can use clipart instead of shapes.
- Ecomaps can look like pies, or concentric circles or bubbles gravitating around a central circle. You can use colours, gradients, hues, bullet points and so on. You can make your ecomap as simple or rigid as you want, or as complicated or ornamented as you wish. Do not think that your ecomap is fixed forever; it is bound to change and evolve. Be prepared to draw it again and move the elements in your computer program.
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