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November 10, 2023

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. This has been a robust year for CFC, with a growing number of people in our Postgraduate Training Program, good attendance at our four annual conferences and in the seminars, courses, and study groups offered by faculty members. For details of our programs over the past year and for the coming year, please stay engaged with our website and subscribe to the CFC Newsletter.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and signup for the newsletter here.

I have found Bowen theory more relevant than ever in this past year as I look for a way to grapple with the events in our current world. As we move into the last months of 2023, I am seeing this year as one of the more difficult ones in human history. The number of lives lost and people displaced in parts of the world that have been stricken with natural disasters, and the number of people suffering unimaginable losses in the wars in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, and the social discord here in the United States—these are worries that occupy a significant percentage of our waking hours. Are we now in the midst of what Bowen described in 1974 as “crises of unparalleled proportions?”

At times of increasing stress, we search for ways to understand our problems. “Why is this happening?” The “why” question tends to lead us into cause-and-effect thinking and to focus on a single variable that seems to explain the problem. This has limited usefulness. Bowen developed a systems theory that is more complex and goes more deeply into the context from which problems emerge. The questions are: who, what, when, where. With a broader perspective and many more facts, it is possible to see many variables and the connections between variables. Moving from subjectivity to objectivity, we gain many more options for understanding and solving problems. It is a way of thinking that applies to the family and all human relationships, including the relationships within and between societies. For some of my own thinking on Bowen’s concept of the emotional process in society, please read this recent blog post on CFC’s “The Systems Thinker” blog.

Bowen remarked: “Systems therapy cannot remake that which nature created, but through learning how the organism operates, controlling anxiety, and learning how to better adapt to the fortunes and misfortunes of life, it can give nature a better chance.” “A better chance” for families and for societies is a compelling mission that draws people to the study of Bowen theory and that inspires the work of Center for Family Consultation. 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 gratitude from myself and my fellow faculty members. Thank you for your interest and generous support.

Stephanie Ferrera