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The Bowen Family Systems Theory



This is a brief overview of the Bowen Family Systems Theory. Developed in the 1950s, still very useful in working with families.

This is a brief overview of the Bowen Family Systems Theory. Developed in the 1950s, still very useful in working with families.



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    The Bowen Family Systems Theory The Bowen Family Systems Theory Presentation Transcript

    • Counselcarecanada.org
      Bowen Family Systems Theory
      Relevant for more than half a century
    • Bowen Family Systems Theory
      An Overview
      Dr. Murray Bowen
      Georgetown Family Center, 1975
      Multigenerational Transmission of Family Problems
      An Eight-Factor Theory
      Created an Objective Theory for taking Intuitiveness out of Therapy
      Looked at Multigenerational Trends
      By Examining Eight Concepts of Family Functioning
      How Much
    • A way of thinking about the emotional functioning of people who belong to multigenerational, self-perpetuating systems
      Nuclear family rather than the individual is viewed as the emotional unit to be treated.
      Since change in one family member creates change in the others in this emotionally interdependent system, it is possible to do some level of family therapy with only one persont.
      Basic Tenets of the Theory
      Family : Emotional unit-network of interlocking relationships
      Tied together in THINKING, FEELING, & BEHAVIOUR
    • Differentiated family
      Members of healthy family can differentiate between own thoughts and feelings and those of others;
      The opposite of differentiation is Fusion;
      The greater the fusion between individual members, the poorer the functioning.
      Un-differentiated person unable to distinguish between intellectual processes and the feeling process he or she is experiencing.
      a conglomerate emotional oneness.
      un-Differentiated Family
      Ask about the ‘scale’
      Eight interlocking concepts are embedded in the basic ideas represented by this theory
    • Two members experience stress, and bring in another family member to relieve the tension, and a Triangle is formed
      During intense stress, the triangle gets bigger and will bring in interlocking relationships with other triangles
      When anxiety increases people need increased closeness (fusion) or distance.
    • Anxiety Increases
      Need for distance or closeness increases
      Anxiety Decreases
      Need for distance or closeness decreases
      Dysfunctional response to increased stress and anxiety
    • Nuclear Family Emotional System
      Dysfunction of partner can take a number of forms, including physical, emotional or social dysfunction and can include substance abuse or other acting out behaviours.
      The other partner is often unaware of the problem, and becomes stronger as the other experiences dysfunction.
    • Family Projection Process
    • Multigenerational Transmission Process
    • Emotional Cut-Off
    • Sib-line positions share common characteristics
      Sibling roles complement each other
      Research indicates positions people take on in relationships
      Sibling Position
    • Coping strategies for life are passed down through generations
      More highly differentiated people cope better with life’s stresses
      How families deal with social expectations passed down.
      Societal Emotional Process
    • Promote greater understanding of family as system
      Focus on the Unit
      Decrease Anxiety
      Understand triangulation patterns
      Working with Families
    • Reduce triangulation
      Reduce emotional cut-off
      Genogram the family’s story
      Teach healthy communication patterns
      and to…
    • That’s just the ‘nuts and bolts’
    • Invest in families
      Invest in life!