Lectures are held at the Bowen Center at 7:30 pm on the 2019-2020 calendar dates shown below, unless otherwise stated. The lectures are free and open to the public. On-street parking is available. Doors open at 7:00 pm.

The Professional Lecture Series focus on the family as a natural system and on knowledge from the study of other natural systems. A distinctive feature of this meeting is the length of time the presenter is given to develop and illustrate ideas and entertain discussion.

Dates for Academic Year 2020-2021

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Past Professional Lectures

October 3, 2019

A Physician’s Response to Climate Change
Dr. Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, FAAFP
Executive Director, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

A family medicine physician and public health doctor who has engaged in teaching, research and advocacy for over 30 years, Dr. Sarfaty will describe her research using this background to show how climate change has affected her view of health care over the years. Her work and research were the impetus for founding the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health in 2016. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of options for advocacy.

Watch recording on Facebook or YouTube

You can also listen to this lecture on Apple Podcasts. Search “The Bowen Center” to find The Professional Lecture podcast.

Download Slides

January 23, 2020

In-Law Triangles
Peggy Chan, MEd, RSW
Director of Program, ISS Family Institute, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, Hong Kong

The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is often experienced as complicated and intense for many families in Hong Kong. The introduction of unresolved emotional attachment to the family of origin into the spousal relationship often creates tensions in both the marriage and the spouse’s family of origin. Another complicating cultural factor is the expectation of loyalty to one’s parents. Ms. Chan will be presenting her ideas relating not only to marriages in the culture of Hong Kong, but some thoughts about her own experiences and how working on differentiation of self can be an influence in calming otherwise stressful relationships.

Watch recording on Facebook or YouTube.

February 13, 2020

Living Systems in the Lectionary
Barbara Laymon, PhD, MPH
Faculty member at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington, DC

Dr. Laymon will discuss her efforts to define herself each week with a regular writing/spiritual practice on her blog, Reflections on the Sunday Lectionary Readings. Augmenting her efforts, she encounters many surprises and insights along the way. The blog, intended for both clergy and lay leaders in congregations, is based on the Revised Common Lectionary.

Watch recording on Facebook or YouTube


March 19, 2020

Searching for Harmony between Human Societies and Their Sustaining Environments
Patricia Comella, Esq (retired)

Ms. Comella will describe her efforts to apply Bowen’s natural systems theory of human emotional functioning to mitigate tensions in the relationship between human societies and their sustaining environments. The human is inextricably attached to the Earth. Humans depend on nature’s bounty for their survival and cannot sustain their existence without nature’s help. Conversely, nature cannot sustain its health without human sensitivity to its needs. There is currently abundant evidence that the relationship is out of balance, as there are limits to what nature can provide. The speaker will highlight how understanding and using Bowen theory can be used to think through ways to bring the human into better harmony with nature.


April 2, 2020

Reclaiming and Creating Relationships to Place, Land, and Nature
Mary Catherine “Kitty” Bass, MDiv, MSW, LCSW
Private Practice, Wilmington, NC

Kitty Bass will be focusing on three aspects describing the human’s part in understanding our relationship with nature. First, she will provide an overview of Bowen theory, using its principles to discuss the necessity for bridging cutoff with nature, natural systems, and evolutionary biology. She will then demonstrate how Bowen theory was useful, specifically in Magnolia Partners in Agriculture, a Kellogg-funded project for agricultural sustainability, which operated in the birthplace for the nation’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) for swine and poultry. Finally, Ms. Bass will discuss rebuilding relationships more in harmony with nature.

Watch recording on Facebook or YouTube.

May 28, 2020

Writing about Bowen Theory for a Popular Audience
Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC
Faculty member at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Author and Therapist in Private Practice, Washington, DC

Is it possible or useful to translate the ideas of Bowen theory into everyday language? Dr. Smith will talk about how she created a book about theory for a popular audience. She will also explore how the practice of writing can help a person calm down and grow up in a relationship system.

Watch the recording on Facebook or YouTube.