Bowen Family Systems Theory 101

Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) is a comprehensive theory of the family based on Dr. Murray Bowen’s view of the human as part of nature and the family as a natural system. Dr. Bowen developed a framework for describing the emotional process and identifying automatic patterns of behavior among family members.

This series of eight, one-hour lectures and discussions is conducted online using the free downloadable teleconferencing technology The program is designed to provide participants with a general overview of each concept of Bowen Family Systems Theory.

Bowen 101 covers:

  • Differentiation of Self
  • Triangles
  • The Nuclear Family Emotional System
  • Family Projection Process
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process
  • Emotional Cutoff
  • Sibling Position
  • Societal Emotional Process

A basic understanding of the eight concepts offers participants the opportunity to begin conceptualizing clinical cases through the lens of BFST. Gaining a new, broader perspective on behavior patterns in families can significantly improve outcomes of the therapeutic process.

Participants are encouraged to read Extraordinary Relationships by Roberta Gilbert. Other references will be recommended during the course.

Participation will require video conferencing capabilities through (at no additional expense). There you can download a free version of the software or head to an app store. A computer, tablet, or smartphone with microphone and video camera are required. Prior to each session, participants will receive by email a meeting ID# and instructions for logging on.


I am so thankful I decided to enroll in the Bowen 101 series with Cecilia Guzman. Her presentations of Bowen’s concepts using research and real-life examples, mostly of her own family stories, were thorough and thought provoking. You will have the opportunity to learn about this theory from someone who has not only studied it herself, but is living it. Whether you are curious about Bowen theory or have had years of exposure to it, you will benefit from taking this class.
-Caitlin Baldauff, MA, LPC, SAS


The Bowen 101 online course with Cecilia is fantastic. Cecilia expertly chooses the most important features to present for those beginning the exploration into family systems and how they influence us. She embodies the work fully and has a special way of presenting the material in the context of true stories (often using examples from her own family system), in a way that makes learning very fun, very real and immensely practical. The wisdom Cecilia shared with the group impacted me from our first session. If you are interested in beginning your exploration into the Bowen family system theory in a format that is interactive, personal and has a lasting impact- this is your course. Thank you, Cecilia, for your generosity of spirit. Your fun, irreverent, intelligent and passion for the work is contagious!
-Amy Benton, Registered Psychotherapist #0110549, MS, PhD(c), C-IAYT


Cecilia Guzman provides a passionate, engaged, and vulnerable overview of Bowen Family Systems Theory. Her willingness to share personal stories, respond to questions, and point to relevant studies make for a worthwhile investment of time. For folks needing an introduction to Bowen Theory or for those needing a refresher, Guzman’s “Bowen 101” is helpful.
-William Lee Mangrum, Durango, CO


Bowen 101 is an engaging, accessible way to get introduced to the concepts of Bowen Family Systems Theory. Cecilia’s use of clinical examples helps bring theory to life. I found it useful.
-Lili Shank



Earn up to 8 CEUs with full-series attendance! The program is approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits. For further information, contact Cecilia Guzman.

Additional Information

Please contact Cecilia Guzman, the Faculty Coordinator.