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.

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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.

Collective Behavior in Natural Systems
LeAnn Howard, MSW, MA

This article cites research on collective behavior from cells to families and, with the inclusion of Bowen theory, explores the potential for a more integrated theory of life processes.

The Social Hierarchy: Biology, History, and Emotional Process
Stephanie Ferrera, MSW

This paper explores the biological roots of the social hierarchy, the contexts in which it has evolved, and the reciprocal nature of dominant-subordinate relations ranging from despotic societies to more egalitarian societies.


A brief report presents important ideas in development and promising research in its early stages

Defining a Self as a Therapist
Fran Ackerman, MSW

Defining oneself as a therapist requires observing one’s feelings and behavior and clarifying one’s thinking regarding clients as well as the therapeutic process. Using the subjective data provided by self-report, the author uses her own clinical cases to understand the variation in her reactivity and to work at defining herself as a therapist.


Report on the 2nd International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory
Peggy Chan, MEd, RSW
Introduction by Anne S. McKnight, MSW, EdD

The 2nd International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory was held in Hong Kong on May 17-19, 2018. The more than 300 attendees had the opportunity to view the breadth of cultures in which family systems ideas were relevant. The baton was handed to attendees from Sweden who will host the 3rd International Conference in June 2020.


Presentation of a faculty clinical case, followed by a discussion with faculty members of the Bowen Center

Work on Differentiation of Self in the Family of Origin and Its Impact on Leadership Effectiveness
Stan Proffitt

This presentation and faculty discussion explores the ways in which family patterns of distance have influenced a high-level executive’s leadership at work. Gaining insight into his own family history helped him to reduce blaming others and take greater responsibility for defining self in his family and organization.


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

Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind
by Kevin N. Laland
Reviewed by Katharine Gratwick Baker, PhD

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