Conversations with the Faculty 2018-2019
September 24, 2018
The Family Diagram and Family Research: Tools for Working on Differentiation of Self
This presentation will illustrate ways that working on family research and developing family diagrams contribute toward observing and managing reactivity, increasing objectivity, and taking responsibility for self. The examples for discussion will include one’s own family and clinical practice.
October 22, 2018
A Systems View of Ethical Challenges in the Workplace: Managing Self in the Triangles
This presentation will cover theoretical ideas about defining self, moving amidst the triangles, and keeping principles in mind. A case study will be used to illustrate the application of theory in an organization.
November 19, 2018
Nuclear Family Emotional Process and Organizations
This discussion will explore the impact that working toward differentiation of self can have on one’s leadership effectiveness. Questions for exploration during the discussion include:
– How does multigenerational family history influence one’s leadership functioning?
– What leadership advantages can emerge from working on Differentiation of Self in one’s family of origin?
– How does leading from a defined self differ from more mainstream ways of thinking about leadership?
– How might one operationalize principles that undergird Differentiation of Self – in family, organizational, and community leadership?
December 17, 2018
The Family Emotional System and the African American Family
This study applies Bowen family systems theory to investigate the factors influencing the functioning of slave owners, slaves, and their descendants from a systems perspective. The findings in this investigation reveal the extent to which there is a direct correlation between the quality of a person’s family relationships and how that person functions. In effect, it is an attempt to answer a basic question asked by Murray Bowen in the late 1970’s: “How does a slave develop a self in an oppressive, dehumanizing system forcing him in a no-self position?” Bowen was convinced the answer would best be found by shifting the focus from the atrocities of slavery to the ability of slaves to survive and thrive.
January 28, 2019
The Childhood Adversity and Adult Functioning of Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was one of the principal contributors to the founding of the United States. His childhood was highly unstable with a significant number of early losses. His development, as reported by Ron Chernow in Alexander Hamilton, raises interesting questions related to his level of differentiation of self and his level of functioning, both in public and in his family. In this presentation, Dr. Noone will present Alexander Hamilton’s family diagram and a timeline of events in his life. Factors contributing to his functioning will be discussed.
February 25, 2019
What Differences Do Natural Systems Make?
This presentation is an overview of family systems theory, in particular the importance of understanding the family as a basis for applying the 8 concepts of Bowen theory. The presenter traces the family history of her mother’s father’s family, discussing how applying systems ideas allowed her to better understand the family over the generations and her part in it.
March 25, 2019
Operationalizing the Concept of Differentiation
Social scientists have conducted thousands of studies on overlapping concepts like resiliency, self-esteem, coping, and adaptation. Reviews of the literature identify many similar challenges for research on each of these concepts. Bowen theory can help to address such challenges.
April 22, 2019
Taking the Focus off the Problem Child Using a Bowen Family Systems Theory Approach
Dr. Collier’s experience as a mental health specialist in Head Start afforded her the opportunity to shift the primary anxiety focus off the child. Typically, the helping professional’s priority and energy centers on the symptoms in the child and his/her behavioral problems. The presenter’s focus on differentiation of self in the classroom, coupled with increasing parent and teacher awareness of differentiation of self, promoted more opportunities for flexibility and maturity in the system.
June 3, 2019
Differentiation of Self and Creative Writing
This conversation will explore how individuals can work on differentiation of self and engage their curiosity about family functioning through the practice of writing. It will also present ideas for writing about Bowen theory for a wider audience.
June 24, 2019
Ongoing Efforts to Apply Bowen Theory to Work Systems
Bowen family systems theory has added a great deal to Ms. Post’s personal and professional life. It has formatted the way she works with clients, and how she has approached challenges in her own family. It is a rich resource for living an examined life. Lately, Ms. Post is interested in sharing the ideas in Bowen theory not just as a way to handle problems but rather as a way to understand the automatic actions of a family. Presenting family systems theory as the “magic of family” has been an interesting and worthwhile endeavor. This presentation will explore this way of thinking systems.
Conversations with the Faculty 2017-2018
September 25, 2017
Shift Happens: On Transitions and Transformations
This conversation will consider how Bowen theory can inform organizations as they encounter and manage transition. A case study will examine the impact of Bowen theory on program organization and implementation before, during, and after a functional shift.
October 23, 2017
Individuality and Togetherness
Bowen theory posits two life forces: a life force for individuality and a life force for togetherness. This conversation will examine the phenomena that Bowen theory describes with the use of these two terms, and how the two terms interlock with other concepts of the theory.
November 13, 2017
Managing Anxiety in Daily Life: Possibilities and Pitfalls
This conversation will cover some of the basics of Bowen theory, including awareness of family problems in the management of anxiety. When working at differentiation of self, the presence of anxiety and its impact on the ability to think in triangles is an important challenge. There will be some focus on the functioning position of the family members, as it affects one’s ability to stay focused on goals in the midst of anxiety. There will be practical examples of everyday life situations and audience participation will be encouraged.
December 18, 2017
Defining a Self: Enduring Triangles Following a Family Death
This conversation will examine the effort to define a self in response to family triangles following the death of a parent, where cutoff and intense triangles existed. The emotional process continues following the death of a father. The presenter will share efforts to continue connecting with family members from whom the father was emotionally cutoff and define self in relation to the mother, who sustains the cutoff from the father’s family. The main goal has been to remain responsible for self and engaged with members of the family while affording others the latitude to function for self.
January 22, 2018
Observations on the Impact of Emotional Cutoff
This conversation will discuss the families of two siblings evidencing different degrees of cutoff and the effects of overcoming cutoff in the third generation.
February 26, 2018
The Benefits and Challenges of Connecting to the Family System to Learn about Self and Promote Family Wisdom
Carrie E. Collier, PhD, LPC, CRC
Making one’s way through the family emotional system and being a self can be a challenging endeavor. These challenges are often the reasons individuals lean toward distancing from their families of origin, especially during shifts in the family system. A case example will be presented to demonstrate three Bowen Family Systems Theory constructs and how one applied these to her family system to gain insight into anxiety markers in self and the family emotional patterns.
March 26, 2018
What Are the Differences between Attachment Theory and Bowen Family Systems Theory?
This conversation will describe attachment theory, its origins in psychoanalysis, and its emphasis on caregiver style as important in the development of a child. It will also present a family systems view of the families, an emotional unit central to understanding the development and future life-course of a child.
April 23, 2018
The Places of Ordained Leadership in Congregational Systems
The designated leader in a congregational system is often the focus of confusing and conflicting expectations. It is a place in the system that usually has been occupied by predecessors as well. This conversation will explore the place of the congregation leader in light of Bowen theory while comparing and contrasting this with the position of the therapist.
May 21, 2018
Neurofeedback, the Brain, and Differentiation of Self
This conversation will be about my work integrating neurofeedback and Bowen family systems theory. Neurofeedback is often thought of as a treatment for the individual and their symptoms, such as ADHD, seizures, and anxiety. Neurofeedback can also be integral to the process of differentiation of self. Our brains are regulating and are regulated by the emotional system of which we are a part. This conversation will explore the interplay between neurofeedback and differentiation of self, both conceptually and through application.
June 25, 2018
Introducing Bowen Theory to Financial Planners and Lawyers
How does one present a way of thinking to those who are often sitting in the middle of family differences? This conversation will review how to think about the value of theory with those not trained in human behavior.
Conversations with the Faculty 2016-2017
September 19, 2016
Discovering Emotional Cutoff
The use of theory in the discovery of emotional cutoff in one’s family and the value in bridging cutoffs will be discussed.
October 17, 2016
Marriage, Therapy, and Bowen Theory
What did Bowen say about working with a couple? This presentation will explore “couples counseling” from the perspective of Bowen theory.
November 21, 2016
Societal Emotional Process: How Does Bowen Theory Relate to How Society Functions?
Societal emotional process is the eighth concept in Bowen theory. This presentation explores how Bowen theory can be applied to social issues. The projection process, triangles, multigenerational transmission process, and differentiation of self are examples of how theory can illuminate how reactivity is managed in societies and nations.
December 12, 2016
The Multigenerational Family Process in the Adoptive Family
The impact of the multigenerational emotional process on the nuclear family will be described in a case study of an adoptive family.
January 9, 2017
The Differentiated Family System
Bowen’s remarkable idea of family diagnosis versus individual diagnosis provides a useful framework for understanding the underpinnings of family ethical readiness and the differentiated family system. This presentation entails a literature review of Bowen’s writing and videos that describe his ideas regarding defining a self in the family and the differentiated family coupled with the presenter’s research on the relation between wisdom and ethical maturity.
February 6, 2017
The Importance of Extended Family Work in Differentiation of Self
Victoria Harrison will draw upon what Bowen wrote and said about extended family work, upon the Observations of Change Research Project and on work in her own family to describe the ways this work contributes toward differentiation of self. She will discuss common challenges encountered and overcome. This presentation will consider changes in light of epigenetic influences and adverse childhood experience research.
March 14, 2017
Differentiation of Self, Anxiety, and Leadership
If one is a leader, therapist, minister, parent, or family member, this conversation will be relevant. Differentiation of self is at the heart of the matter in any leadership position where relationships are important. The presentation will discuss the application of Bowen theory in these areas and a description of what it means to lead self while relating to others in any group.
April 3, 2017
The Disease Process from a Systems Perspective
This presentation will identify the mechanisms influencing the development and course of disease from a systems perspective. The literature suggests that most diseases are caused by multiple processes. However, a systems framework for understanding the disease process suggests that it is not the presence of specific factors but rather a disturbance in the balance of the relationship system between them. Families from my study on Alzheimer’s will be used to illustrate factors within the relationship system that trigger the onset and course of this disease process.
May 15, 2017
Managing the “Urge to Fix” – Bowen Theory and Organizational Consulting
In the business world consultants are often paid to provide the answer to a technical and/or a human problem. The consultant who has the expertise and the experience “tells” the client what to do and the problem is solved. Consulting to organizations with Bowen theory as the theoretical framework adopts another approach. This Conversation will address the difference between solving a problem for another and helping another think. This webinar will also address the natural, automatic tendency to “help.” Case examples will be presented.
June 19, 2017
Bowen Theory and Female Perpetrators of Domestic Violence
This Conversation will present initial findings of a six-month study of families experiencing the impact of domestic violence. The study will report on the facts of functioning for the families, how Bowen theory contributes to the understanding of domestic violence, and how Bowen theory can inform how abuser intervention programs are best organized.
Conversations with the Faculty 2015-2016
September 21, 2015
The Difference Bowen Theory Makes in Theory and Practice
This lecture and discussion will focus on ways that Bowen family systems theory differs from other prevalent approaches to human behavior. The importance of these differences will be illustrated with examples from therapy, business, ministry and research. Discussion will raise questions about distinguishing one’s own way of thinking and the difference it makes in practice.
October 19, 2015
The Family Reaction to Death
This presentation discusses Bowen’s views of the family’s reaction to death as distinctly different from the predominant viewpoints in grief work begun by Freud and popularized by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Grief work encourages individuals to focus on their feelings of grief and work it through in five stages. Bowen sees death as a natural part of the life cycle that shifts the family equilibrium and can result in an emotional shock wave of reactivity across several generations. A case example will be given.
November 23, 2015
Cooperation and Differentiation
This presentation will explore cooperation in family groups and organizations. What is cooperation from the viewpoint of differentiation of self? This presentation grows out of my work with legacy families (multigenerational families with shared assets) who are challenged to cooperate for the benefit of the multigenerational family. I will incorporate examples in my effort to understand cooperation in the human family group.
December 14, 2015
Within-Family Variability in Functioning
This presentation will examine multiple variables that contribute to the life adjustment children make in the same family. Several studies including the Adoptive Family will be discussed.
January 11, 2016
The Use of Language
In setting forth his theory of human relationship patterns, Murray Bowen made a consistent practice of giving ordinary words a more specialized meaning. The fuller meaning of important terms emerges only in relation to other key terms and to the phenomenon being described. This presentation will hew closely to the specific definition of the terms that Bowen explicitly provides to draw out more fully the implications of the terms when they are considered in relation to one another.
February 8, 2016
Family and the Intermix of Emotional and Intellectual Functioning
Bowen theory posits that differentiation of self entails both the development of emotional autonomy and the differentiation of the intellectual system of an individual. How the family system might influence the “intermix” of emotional and intellectual functioning of individuals will be the subject of this discussion.
March 14, 2016
Cutoff and Distance through the Generations: Learning about Distance in Self While Observing Distance in Others
The concept of cutoff and patterns of emotional distance will be covered in this presentation. It will include the practical application of the effort at differentiation of self in the presenter’s own family.
April 25, 2016
Differentiation of Self and Neurofeedback: Top/Down, Bottom/Up
In this conversation, Ms. Friesen will present her work integrating neurofeedback with family systems theory, both conceptually and practically. Using neurofeedback in Bowen theory consultation has expanded her way of understanding the brain, the family and the process of differentiation of self. She will illustrate these ideas with case examples.
May 16, 2016
An Arena for Differentiation
Differentiation occurs across all areas of functioning in relationships with significant others. This presentation will discuss such a process in the thinking and shaping of one area of functioning.
June 20, 2016
Reactivity Factors in the Relationship Between Society and its Sustaining Environments
Bowen laid out a methodology for extending Bowen family systems theory to examine and understand emotional processes at the level of society and its sustaining environments. This conversation will discuss that methodology and apply it to examine reactivity factors in societal-environmental relationships with the intent of capturing variation in functioning, especially as it pertains to agricultural activities.