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Center for Family Consultation

November 14, 2022

Greetings from the Executive Board and Faculty of CFC to our community of support.

This letter is our annual appeal for your support.  Your financial support in addition to your ongoing engagement with our mission is essential to the growth and vitality of the Center for Family Consultation.  As a not-for-profit organization operating largely on a volunteer basis, we are able to offer rich and diverse learning opportunities to a rapidly growing audience of mental health professionals, clergy, business leaders and the general public.  With newer technology, and a tech-savvy team, we have made our programs available online.  This technology is essential but it does add a costly item to our budget.  For this reason, your contribution to our once-a-year fundraising campaign will be more important than ever.

Here are a few of the highlights of the eventful year of 2022.

Bowen theory goes international.  CFC was represented at the 3rd International Conference on Bowen Theory, held in the Lapland of northern Sweden in June.  Faculty members Dr. Bob Noone and Rev. John Bell were among the presenters who came from eight countries to speak about their research, understanding and application of the theory.  Attendees from Estonia remarked that they were delighted to see that the presentations were consistent with their understanding of Bowen theory.

The CFC Postgraduate Program also has reached across borders for the first time this year, welcoming two international trainees.  Engaging in cross-cultural study reminds us that the emotional process in the family and in society are universal across time and culture, providing a common ground for understanding one another.

Expanding knowledge of the natural sciences is a core part of the CFC mission.  Murray Bowen called his life’s work “an Odyssey toward a science of human behavior.”  Study and integration of knowledge from the life sciences is integral to learning Bowen theory.  Scholars in the CFC Postgraduate Training Program are encouraged to find areas of interest within this vast world and to do their own research.

Beginning in 1990, CFC has invited a guest scientist to be a speaker at the Midwest Symposium on Bowen theory, held annually on the first weekend in May.  They are leaders in their respective fields, including biology, primatology, neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, and even microbiology, who present their research and engage in a dialogue with Bowen scholars. The meetings have never failed to be lively and rich in the depth of the exchange.

Dr. Michael Kerr has been a delightful presence at every one of these meetings, giving us superb presentations of his ongoing research and special interest in the science of cancer.  We sadly accepted his announcement that the 2022 meeting would be his last, as he moves into retirement.

Dr. Judith M. Burkart, professor at the University of Zurich, will be the guest scientist at the 2023 Midwest Symposium on May 12.  Dr. Burkart heads the Evolutionary Cognition Group in the Department of Anthropology, studying the relationship between cooperative breeding and human cognitive evolution.  Those key words are enough to suggest that there will be a high level of interest in seeing connections between her work and Bowen theory.

Leadership emerges in the family as one member takes steps toward differentiation of self.  Dr. Bowen observed this repeatedly in clinical practice and wrote: “The family is a different organism when a leader emerges spontaneously from within the family.”  Bowen theory offers a model of leadership as the natural outcome of the process of differentiation of self.  It is a powerful avenue to progressive change not only for families, but for organizations, communities, and the larger society.  This way of thinking about leadership is integrated into all of CFC’s programs.

The application to organizations is a special interest of faculty members Leslie Fox and Patty Sheridan.  They have brought years of experience running a successful business together with in-depth understanding of Bowen theory to create a course on System-Based Leadership, entitled:  Leading a Business in Anxious Times.  The next session begins on January 19, 2023 and runs through June 29.  Full information is available on the CFC website.

Many of you who are reading this letter are long-term contributors to CFC, and some of you have just met us recently.  To all, I express deep gratitude from myself and my fellow faculty members. Thank you for your interest and generous support.


Stephanie Ferrera