Family Systems: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences, is an interdisciplinary journal, published since 1994, by the Georgetown Family Center. The aim of the journal is to advance the understanding of human emotional functioning and behavior based on Bowen theory. Reflecting the assumption of Bowen theory that the human family is governed by the same natural forces that govern all life, the journal publishes articles that contribute to a better understanding of any living system.

Current Issue, 13:1

New Subscribers
Current Subscribers
Download Past Articles



Robert J. Noone, PhD


Journal articles reflect natural systems thinking or are relevant to it. These may include concept papers as well as research studies.

Emotional Process in Society: A Review and Expansion of the Concept
Katharine Gratwick Baker, PhD

Murray Bowen began thinking about human functioning in large non-family systems in the 1940s. Over the next thirty years, he returned many times to this subject in papers and presentations and, in 1974, he introduced the eighth concept—Emotional Process in Society (EPS)—in his family systems theory, Although Dr. Bowen did not fully flesh out the concept during his lifetime, others have continued to explore and expand it, relating it to the other concepts in the theory and to a broader understanding of large human social units. This article reviews Bowen’s original writing on EPS and offers specific examples of its interface with differentiation, triangles, projection, cutoff, and multigenerational family process.

Using Bowen Theory to Lead and Support Human Services: An Interview with Walter Smith, Director of of the Office of Children, Youth, and Families at Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services
Anne S. McKnight, EdD

Dr. Smith’s clinical approach is based on the premise that child abuse evolves within a family’s adaptation to stressful conditions and traumatic events. What is observed as the “problem”—the abuse—is integral to how the family adapts to stressful events and circumstances. Family adaptation is best understood as embedded in an entire extended network of interconnected family relationships. These ideas have been translated into the working hypothesis for addressing child abuse in Allegheny County by defining the family as the client.


A special feature of Family Systems is a previously unpublished manuscript by Murray Bowen and other researchers in the family field.


Presentation of a faculty clinical case and discussion with faculty of the Bowen Center.

Triangles, Fusion, and the Challenge to be a Self
Laura Brooks, MSW

Bowen theory describes the family as an emotional unit composed of interlocking triangles that emerge from interdependence between individuals in the nuclear and extended family. Family consultation from a systems perspective keep this broader perspective in mind as the therapist focuses on defining self and relating to the maturity in the other. An important shift in the consultation process occurs when an individual gains objectivity about their part in the family relationship process.


Reviews on books relevant to Bowen theory and its many applications.

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution
by Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut
Reviewed by: Michael E. Kerr, MD

Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy
by Melvin Konner, MD
Reviewed by: Stephanie J. Ferrera, MSW