Ecomaps are graphic depictions that provide an aerial view of the relationships and influences between individuals, families or collectives, and their ecological environment, including their social and support networks. They are used in family therapy and social work as an aid for organising material about family life to assist with assessment, planning and intervention as ecomaps demonstrate the nature of relationships, whether they are positive or negative; they highlight the flow or lack of resources; they convey the points of conflict to be mediated, and the resources required to do so. The development of ecomaps is carried out in collaboration in order to gain multiple perspectives, to support engagement and buy-in of others in the process, and to build rapport. The collaborative process assists in building awareness and strengths of relationships and influences, and may also provide insights leading to self-reflection, the volunteering of further information, and/ or lead to the identification of unrealised potential. A Kaupapa Māori analysis of ecomaps shows they are a visual tool that can depict whakapapa and kaupapa-based connections. As a visual representation ecomaps are not a stand-alone tool; they involve story telling to provide context, and they encourage debate and discussion to ensure validation and affirmation of the information that has been shared. Ecomaps are a valuable tool for providing the bigger picture in terms of the connectedness of whānau.

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