Randall T. Frost, MDiv

The Use of Language in Bowen Theory

Murray Bowen used ordinary language to describe the variables and concepts of his theory. Yet the meaning of every term of the theory is informed and qualified by the meaning of every other term used in the theory. The language in Bowen theory attempts to represent predictable patterns of family functioning under a variety of conditions. Drawing out more fully the meaning of key terms when they are considered in relation to one another adds to the precision of the theory. If the theory is accurate, this method provides a more nuanced understanding of how the family emotional system actually functions. The more precisely the language of the theory can be defined, the more readily conceptual links can be made to emerging knowledge in the life sciences and the more readily hypotheses can be formulated to test and extend theory.

A description of this approach can be found in: 2013. “Use of the Term Solid Self in Bowen Theory.” Family Systems 10(1): 43-62.

Practice Based Evidence of Bowen Theory

Murray Bowen began to develop his theory of family emotional functioning in the course of doing family research at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1954-59. He subsequently wrote, “Theory and therapy developed as an integrated unit, with psychotherapy determined by theory.” (Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 471) The close integration of theory and therapy provides a basis for testing the efficacy of Bowen theory in clinical research.