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BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY. SANDRA MALOUGH CYNTHIA LOPEZ. LEADING THERAPIST. Murray Bowen Oldest of 5 children Medical doctor Hospitalized entire families with schizophrenic member 1975 founded the Georgetown Family Center. Overview.

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bowen family systems therapy

BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY

SANDRA MALOUGH

CYNTHIA LOPEZ

leading therapist
LEADING THERAPIST
  • Murray Bowen
    • Oldest of 5 children
    • Medical doctor
    • Hospitalized entire families with schizophrenic member
    • 1975 founded the Georgetown Family Center
overview
Overview
  • Family = an emotional unit (network of interlocking relationships)
    • Etiology of an individual’s dysfunction
    • Families are tied in thinking, feeling, and behavior
  • Trying to take the intuitiveness out of therapy by having an objective theory
  • Multigenerational trends
  • 8 key concepts
8 key concepts cont
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Differentiation of self
    • Occurs when an individual is able to distinguish between intellectual processes and the feeling process he or she is experiencing
    • Greater fusion between individuals, poorer functioning
      • Can’t differentiate b/w thoughts and feelings
      • Have trouble differentiating themselves from others
differentiation of self cont
Differentiation of self cont.
  • Undifferentiated family ego mass
    • “a conglomerate emotional oneness”
      • In other words, an emotionally “stuck together” family
      • Can be so intense family members know each others feelings, thoughts, dreams, and fantasies.
    • Originally characterized in psychoanalytic terms
      • Later referred to as fusion-differentiation
      • Amount of fusion-differentiation changes
differentiation of self scale
Differentiation of self scale
  • Fusion
  • Lowest levels
    • Emotionally fused to the family
    • Feelings dominate
  • Differentiation of self
  • Highest levels
    • Separate thinking from feelings
    • Over 60 is a small % of society
8 key concepts
8 Key Concepts
  • Triangles
    • Smallest stable relationship system
    • A major influence on the activity of a triangle is anxiety
      • More anxiety = more distance, or closeness
      • Less anxiety = comfortable back and forth discussion of feelings
8 key concepts cont8
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Nuclear family emotional system
  • Lack of differentiation > emotional cutoff > fusion in marriage
  • Unstable fusion in marriage tends to produce
    • Dysfunction in a spouse
    • Marital conflict
    • Projection to one or more children
8 key concepts cont9
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Family projection process
    • Parents transmit their lack of differentiation to their children
    • Intensity of this process is related to:
      • Degree of immaturity/undifferentiation of parents
      • Level of stress/anxiety the family experiences
8 key concepts cont10
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Multigenerational transmission process
    • Transmission of anxiety from generation to generation
    • Patterns, themes and roles are passed through generations
    • Less anxiety focused on children = more likely they’ll grow up w/ greater differentiation
    • Child most involved in family’s fusion has lower differentiation
8 key concepts cont11
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Emotional cutoff
    • A way to manage intense fusion & anxiety
    • Distance ourselves physically and emotionally
    • Escape
    • Greater fusion = greater cutoff
    • The pattern remains unchanged
8 key concepts cont12
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Sibling position
    • Provides info. about roles people take in relationships
    • People in same sibling positions tend to share characteristics
    • Sibling roles are complementary
    • Reflected in later relationships
    • Influences triangulation with siblings & parents
8 key concepts cont13
8 Key Concepts cont.
  • Societal emotional process
    • How families deal with social expectations of things like gender, race, class, sexism, etc.
    • Coping strategies are passed through generations
    • Those with higher differentiation deal better
the therapist
THE THERAPIST
  • Do not act as problem solver
  • Coach clients to understand process & structure
  • Encourage expanding familial ties
  • Asks questions
  • Neutral parts of triangles
    • Best if therapist observes from partially outside the family
goals of therapy
GOALS OF THERAPY
  • Decrease anxiety, increase self-focus
  • De-triangulation
  • Balance fusion and differentiation
  • Understanding, not action
therapeutic techniques
THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUES
  • Assessment
    • Genograms
  • Process questions
  • Relationship experiments
  • De-triangulation
  • Coaching
  • Taking “I-positions”
  • Displacement stories
refrences
REFRENCES
  • Nichols, N. P., & Schartz, R. C. (2008). Bowen family systems therapy. In Family therapy: Concepts and methods (8th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Bowenian family therapy. (2008) Based in part on Nichols, N. P., & Schartz, R. C. Family therapy: Concepts and methods. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Retrieved from www.psychpage.com/learning/library/counseling/bowen.html
  • Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. (2009). Bowen family therapy. Retrieved from www.thebowencenter.org
  • Brown, J. (1999). Bowen family systems theory and practice: Illustration and critique [Electronic version]. Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 94-103.4
8 key concepts activity
8 KEY CONCEPTS ACTIVITY
  • Read each scenario and form an analysis using the 8 key concepts

Taken from www.thebowencenter.org

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