Family of Origin Seminar

While teaching at Georgetown University Medical School, Murray Bowen discovered that the psychiatric residents, who became interested in understanding more about their families, visiting them and observing what occurred, made more progress as clinicians and in their personal lives than the residents who did not.

Family of Origin (F/O) work has, as a result, become a fundamental part of the learning process in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Therapy.

The F/O seminar, limited to 6 individuals, meets for ten 2-hour monthly sessions in Evanston. Participants read and discuss the basic concepts of Bowen theory. Each month two participants present their on-going research to a coach who enlivens and broadens their thinking about their families. The research consists of facts gathered about their family history—the “who, what, where, when and how” of the events in the family. Attention is paid to the way in which families respond to important events and major stressors. Arriving at an “honest history” of their families, participants begin to understand the forces that have shaped their families and themselves. The resulting patterns are universal to all families and highly predictable. Understanding the role of anxiety in this process is crucial for managing one’s own anxiety and enabling one to operate in a thoughtful manner in making action plans for defining one’s self in and to one’s family. Participants seek a more comfortable connection that enables them to function with more choice and increased flexibility while ensuring their own integrity. Further, participants learn to allow other family members to be themselves, while the participants themselves focus on better ways to be contributing, responsible members of their families.

Each participant presents his research three times and observes the process of five other group members in the 9-month period. Beginning classes use Michael Kerr’s Family Evaluation as the text for study and discussion in the first half hour. Presenters have 45 minutes to share their research with the coach. This is a teaching seminar and not a group therapy session. Beginning classes are formed when six interested individuals are committed to the process. Some individuals have elected to continue the seminar for up to 6–8 years. Occasionally, there are openings in an advanced group that an individual with some knowledge of Bowen theory may join.

Continuing Education Credits

20 CEUs will be awarded. Approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits.

Faculty Coordinator

For more information, please contact Lisa Moss.