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BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY

BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY

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BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY

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  1. BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY SANDRA MALOUGH CYNTHIA LOPEZ

  2. LEADING THERAPIST • Murray Bowen • Oldest of 5 children • Medical doctor • Hospitalized entire families with schizophrenic member • 1975 founded the Georgetown Family Center

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. GOALS OF THERAPY • Decrease anxiety, increase self-focus • De-triangulation • Balance fusion and differentiation • Understanding, not action

  16. THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUES • Assessment • Genograms • Process questions • Relationship experiments • De-triangulation • Coaching • Taking “I-positions” • Displacement stories

  17. 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

  18. 8 KEY CONCEPTS ACTIVITY • Read each scenario and form an analysis using the 8 key concepts Taken from www.thebowencenter.org