How Do Social Workers Really Do Eco Mapping In Social Work?


What is an Ecomap in Social Work Really Used for? Social Worker Tools.

An ecomap assessment tool is one of those types of assessments that social workers keep in their “toolbox.” They use ecomaps to conduct social work assessments to gather valuable information that may be contributing to a client’s problem.

One of the most important reasons why eco mapping in social work are so popular is that they are very easy to use, and provide great, insightful results.  So, whether doing an ecomap for one person or a whole family, it’s something that most social workers can create easily, and often do!


Table of Contents – What You Need to Know about Ecomaps in Social Work

Below, we’ll answer some of the common questions about ecomaps, including:

ecomap in social work

What is ecomap in social work?

Do you have additional examples of ecomaps in social work you would like us to list in this article? Let us know. 


What Is an Ecomap In Social Work Assessment?

An ecomap in social work (also referred to as eco map or eco-map) is a visual representation of all the different systems impacting an individual’s or family’s life.

People interact with multiple other entities regularly, including friends, extended family, work, school, recreational clubs, medical professionals, etc.

This is the person’s “ecosystem.” Eco mapping in social work makes that ecosystem easier to understand and provides more insights into the relationships themselves.

For example, If a social worker is providing clinical therapy and referral services for someone that is a habitual drug user, they will want to see what influences are in their life that can either help or hinder their recovery.

An ecomap example social work assessment allows that social worker to immediately identify the stressful or negative influences in that person’s life, as well as those that are positive and areas of support. This is indicated by the use of connector lines and how they look. (We’ll cover this next.)

An eco map social work assessment is sometimes confused with a genogram because some types of social work genograms will use the same types of relationship lines.

It’s not surprising for someone to accidentally call this assessment an ecogram social work tool rather than an ecomap. Later, we’ll provide an ecomap social work example that actually combines both the genogram and ecomap into one comprehensive report.

Social Work Tools & Templates for Social Workers!

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Do you have any questions or feedback on this article on an example of ecomap in social work or the confusion between an ecomap, genogram, and ecogram social work assessment? If so, click here to contact us.


What Do Eco Maps in Social Work Look Like?

Many sample ecomap images that you see will represent the ecomap social work visual as one big circle with several smaller circles surrounding it.

The circle in the center of the social work ecomap template will be for the individual or family being assessed. The smaller surrounding circles will be used to indicate the ecosystem of that family or individual.

Between the circles in the eco map social work example will be connector lines. The type of line you use will indicate the emotional impact of that relationship.

ecomap social work example lines

The three standard line types that are used are:

  • Solid line: Positive relationship
  • Dashed line: Weak or tenuous relationship
  • Jagged line: Stressful relationship

You can color the lines as well if you like to enhance your ecomap social work example report to be more comprehensive. Some ecomaps also use arrows with lines to represent resources or energy flow between connections.

Here’s how the whole social work ecomap example template looks when the circles and lines are put together.

Sample-eco-map-social-work-min

Sample ecomap from the OCM Solution free ecomap social work PDF and Word template.

What Types of Connections Should You Include in Your Ecomap Social Work Template?

For your ecomap template social work report, you can include any influencing entities in the ecosystem of your client. It’s helpful if you separate them into two groups – one being friends and the other being community.

The community group in your ecomap example social work template can include things like:

  • School
  • Work
  • Church
  • Hobbies
  • Sports activities
  • Social service agencies
  • Medical health services
  • Clubs

What about family?

Family connections are also very important, and they can be included in the ecomap for one person by putting them in smaller circles surrounding the larger one. If you are doing an ecomap for a family, then you can just include all family member names in the main circle.

There is another type of assessment called a genogram that is used to map family connections. You can review our article, Best Social Work Genogram Guide with Samples – Everything You Needto learn more about that.

OCM Solution (formerly AGS) actually has a cloud-based automated template that combines the genogram and eco mapping in social work that we’ll discuss shortly.

Another Type of Social Work Ecomap Example

You do not have to use a large circle surrounded by smaller circles for your social work ecomap template if you’d rather go with a hierarchical view.

Even though many examples of ecomaps in social work use circles, the goal is simply to map the connections and see how they impact your client. You can do this in any way that works best for you.

Here is one of the examples of ecomaps in social work that use a hierarchy instead. This sample ecomap from the OCM Solution Social Work Assessment & Planning Toolkit includes a combined genogram and social work ecomap template.

ags genogram chart

Example of a combined genogram & ecomap in social work using a hierarchy.

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Do you have any questions or feedback about eco map social work templates or types? Do you know of any other tips for eco maps in social work? If so, click here to contact us.


Why Are Ecomaps in Social Work Used?

An ecomap assessment tool to create eco maps in social work has many uses.  Whether creating an ecomap for one person or a family, they provide a lot of helpful insights into relationship dynamics happening in the daily life of the client.

The benefit of using an ecomap social work graphic rather than a text version of the same information is that it makes it easier to visualize the ecosystem for the client. Without the visual provided by ecomaps in social work, positive or negative influencers might be missed.

Here are some of the common uses for a social work ecomap:

  • To understand family dynamics
  • To view an individual’s connections to the community
  • To understand other social support systems the client may be using
  • To identify areas of deprivation where resources may be needed
  • To uncover areas of service duplication
  • For identifying positive and negative influences in a client’s life
  • To find potential people or community organizations that can serve as support for the individual’s care plan
  • To uncover potential areas of growth for a client
  • As a therapy tool with the client to help them see their environment in a different way

Looking for a Cloud-based Assessment & Ecomap Social Work Tool?

social work ecomap

OCM Solution has an easy-to-use social work software that includes an assessment template, a social work ecomap template, a checklist, and examples of ecomaps in social work.

Learn More About OCM Solution Social Work Assessment Toolkit

Contact us if you have any questions or feedback about this ecomap in social work guide. Also, if you would like to provide more examples of ecomaps in social work, feel feel to reach out.


Ecomap Social Work Template (Free to Download and Use)

If you’d like a basic ecomap social work PDF or MS Word template that will allow you to create your own ecomaps, we have a free download for you below. It includes reference lines to use for the three main relationship types used in social work ecomap examples.

On the first page, you’ll find an ecomap social work template to use, and on the second page is an eco map social work example assessment to reference.

ags social work ecomap template

Download Ecomap Social Work PDF Template

Download Ecomap Social Work MS Word Template

If you’re looking for a more robust ecomap social work example template, check out the OCM Solution ecomap assessment tool in the next section!


OCM Solution’s Combined Genogram & Ecomap Cloud Tool

In our efforts to create innovative and easy-to-use cloud tools for the social worker community, we have created our own version of a combined genogram and ecomap template social work professionals can leverage.

This ecomap social work example allows you to see all an individual’s connections – family, friends, community – and how healthy those relationships are in a single comprehensive report.

We make eco mapping in social work fast and easy with:

  1. Cloud template to input or upload data
  2. Analytics dashboard that automatically generates your genogram & ecomap (plus gives you other helpful relationship reports)

This template to generate eco maps in social work is just one piece of the OCM Solution Social Work Assessment & Planning Toolkit. It also includes an assessment template with analytics and social worker tasks checklist.


The template that generates the genogram and ecomap reports:

ags genogram template

Comprehensive and straight-forward genogram/ecomap report:

ags genogram chart

Learn more about generating ecomap example social work reports. Visit our Social Work Toolkit page.


Conclusion | What is Ecomap in Social Work?

When working with individuals and families to provide social services, it’s important to understand all the influencing factors in their lives. Ecomaps in social work provide that valuable insight by illustrating all outside connections and the relationship health of each one.

When eco mapping in social work is combined with a genogram map, it can be even more informative because it also allows you to see the family connections alongside the others.

We hope this article has been a great introduction for you to the world of ecomaps in social work. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Don’t Miss: how to become a family support worker (Introduction to Social Work).

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Eco Mapping & Eco Map Social Work FAQ

What is an eco map social work assessment?

An ecomap in social work is a visual representation of all the different systems impacting an individual’s or family’s life.

People interact with multiple other entities regularly, including friends, extended family, work, school, recreational clubs, medical professionals, etc.

This is the person’s “ecosystem.” Eco mapping in social work makes that ecosystem easier to understand and provides more insights into the relationships themselves.

How do you make eco maps in social work?

You can use a Word document, PowerPoint, spreadsheet, or cloud-based tool to create ecomaps in social work.

Many sample ecomap images that you see will represent the ecomap social work visual as one big circle with several smaller circles surrounding it.

The circle in the center of the social work ecomap template will be for the individual or family being assessed. The smaller surrounding circles will be used to indicate the friends and community connections of that family or individual.

Ecomaps can also be done in a hierarchy graphic instead of circles.

Why are ecomaps important in social work?

An ecomap assessment tool to create eco maps in social work has many uses. Whether creating an ecomap for one person or a family, they provide a lot of helpful insights into relationships dynamics happening in the daily life of the client.

What is the point of an ecomap?

The benefit of using an ecomap social work graphic rather than a text version of the same information is that it makes it easier to visualize the ecosystem for the client. Without the visual provided by ecomaps in social work, positive or negative influencers might be missed.


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