The Systems Thinker - Center for Family Consultation's blog

About Our Blog

An online forum to further the discussion of research and applications of systems thinking that continue to emerge from the ongoing study and practice of Bowen theory by family therapists, clergy, business leaders, consultants, and scientists.

Violence in Society

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people and wounded seventeen more, I found myself in a conversation (really a debate) with a gun rights advocate. I’m grateful for the conversation because it helped clarify my thinking about gun violence and violence in general.

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The Family In Society: Navigating Through Turbulent Times

Dr. Murray Bowen originated a theory of human behavior in the 1950’s and continued to work on it until his death in 1990. Bowen Family Systems Theory is based on his view of the family as a natural system that functions as an emotional unit. Bowen described emotional process in families and how it shapes and is shaped by the responses of each family member.

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An Interview with the co-editors of the book “Death and Chronic Illness in the Family”

Prior to publishing the book Death and Chronic Illness in the Family: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspectives, Clare Ashworth, acquisitions editor at Routledge, interviewed the book’s co-editors, Sydney Reed and Peter Titelman.

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Bowen Theory’s Secrets: Revealing the Hidden Life of Families by Michael E. Kerr, M.D. to be published February 5, 2019

For five years, 1954 to 1959, at the National Institute of Mental Health, psychiatrist Murray Bowen conducted a most unusual research project, focused on schizophrenia. Adult patients and their parents were hospitalized together for observation and treatment. The intensity of the emotional process in these families—the sensitivities, reactivity, and the profound influence of family members on one another’s functioning–came into view. Like a powerful undercurrent, this emotional system was guiding family interaction but was largely out of the awareness of the members. It is aptly called “the hidden life of families.”

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CFC Post-Graduate Training Program: Through a Lens of Leadership, Self-Care and Clinical Practice

I had little understanding of Bowen Family Systems Theory prior to attending the Winter Conference in 2012, where two faculty members presented on “Getting Ahead At Work.” They talked about managing self—not other people—and operating from a clear sense of values and principles. The ideas were simple, but also profound and they helped shift my thinking from focus on others to self. From that time on, I began to question my ideas about work (and family) that I had previously thought of as “dysfunctional or unhealthy,” (thinking I had nothing to do with it) and began instead to understand these ideas as normal functions of a system. I was intrigued by the application of Bowen Theory to a leadership approach in a faculty member’s business. I also recall my sense of wonder after watching another faculty member present about her family of origin, in which she described asking her parents to record themselves answering questions about family facts. I marveled about whether my own parents would ever be so supportive.

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Post Graduate Training in Bowen Family Systems Theory: A Must Take Opportunity for Any Clinician Working with Families, Individuals, or Children

I participated in the Center for Family Consultation’s Post-Graduate Training Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory while I was completing my doctorate degree in clinical Social Work at Aurora University. I began the program during the third year of my doctoral studies when it came time to choose two electives that would align with my distinct area of clinical interest. The timing for beginning the training program could not have been more perfect as my cohort had just completed our clinical coursework in families and family therapy.

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Reflections on Bowen Theory Post-Graduate Training at Center for Family Consultation

I thought it would be a relatively straight-forward task to describe the impact the training program has had on my life and my clinical practice, but that was foolish, considering Bowen theory requires most of us, and certainly me, to rethink much of what I had learned in my family and professional training.

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Lincoln and Leadership

I went to see Spielberg’s “Lincoln” a second time this week in order to verify whether Lincoln was really the perfect example of Systems Based Leadership I had thought he was when I first saw the movie. Even though Lincoln was born more than a hundred years before Murray Bowen, he apparently had an instinctive way of defining himself that is remarkably congruent with Bowen’s ideas about leadership.

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Anxiety Bound

Anxiety appears in our lives in many forms. Humans have been creative in using anxiety to get things done. Nervous energy can motivate us to act and accomplish much. There can be relief in the doing. There is little to worry about if we are a bit anxious about hosting a family holiday and cleaning the house or apartment makes us feel better. However, sometimes the things we do when we are anxious create more challenges for us.

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