WHAT IS BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY?

Bowen family systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen beginning in the 1950's, and developed throughout his life, is a new way of thinking about the human phenomenon. In it, the nuclear family, rather than the individual, is seen as the emotional unit. Several concepts grow out of that basic understanding, from the scale of differentiation of self to the importance of the generations, to functioning of people in the present.

The tremendous usefulness of the theory in the lives of individuals and families gave rise to a new and more effective psychotherapy. Organizations such as businesses and congregations have used the ideas with great benefit. Leadership training based on Bowen theory is proving to have effectiveness for those in religious, business, educational and other types of organizations.

His major papers are found in his book, "Family Therapy in Clinical Practice," Jason Aronson, New York, 1978.

Some Quotations from Dr. Bowen's Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Aronson, New York, 1978

"If society functioned on a higher level, we would have a higher percentage
of people oriented to responsibility for self and others.. . ." p. 449

". . . what man thinks about himself , and what he says about himself, is different in many important ways from what he is." p.158

"As families move from the compartmentalized, less mature world of secrets and foibles which they assume they are keeping under cover, and into the world of permitting their private selves to be more open and a possible example for others to follow, they grow up a little each day." p. 520

"The goal is to be as much of a 'self' as is possible. . .and to permit the others as much latitude as possible toward developing their selfs." p. 463

"Any time one key member of an organization can be responsibly responsible for self, the problem in the organization will resolve." p.463

"There is a fine line between accepting the responsibility for the part self plays in a situation and accepting the 'blame' for it." p.464



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