BOWEN FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY

Kathleen works from the foundational thinking of Bowen Family systems. Bowen Family Systems theory's basic premise is that the relationships between the parts of a family can alter the whole system. Similar to a hanging mobile, if one part of the family reacts or moves than the rest of the family moves to counter and rebalance it. This shifting relationship or "dance" is a multigenrational, dynamic and perpetual process. It shifts shapes and alliances on a constant, but predictable pattern.

With this theoretical approach, Kathleen works with the entire family in managing their own anxiety, the anxiety of the symptomatic individual which helps rebalance the system.

Bowen Family systems concepts: The theroy operates within the framework of these basis concepts.

CONCEPT 1 DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF: is the ability or lack of ability of a person to respond or react to their anxiety. The lower the differentiation of a person the more they will be inclined to react to their feeling state rather than respond with a more thought processed behavior.

CONCEPT 2 TRIANGLES: is the premise that if a two person relationship becomes unstable or challenging, one or both people will enlist or triangle in, another person to help regulate their anxiety.

CONCEPT 3 NUCLEAR FAMILY EMOTIONAL SYSTEM: is the understanding that the family is one emotional system. It means that the anxiety in the family is proportional to the sum of the anxiety of its parts. It also means that all individuals in the family are influenced by the anxiety in the family, regardless if they are in direct contact with family or not.

CONCEPT 4 FAMILY PROJECTION PROCESS: is when the anxiety of one individual is projected on another person in the family. This can be in the form of overcare giving, and/or confrontation.

CONCEPT 5 EMOTIONAL CUTOFF: that people struggle with two conflicting forces; the force of being together and the force to be an individual. This runs on a continuum from total togetherness (fusion) to distancing to the extreme end of the continuuum, emotional cutoff.

CONCEPT 6 MULTIGENERATIONAL FAMILY SYSTEM: is the idea that unresolved emotional issues and it's anxieties from previous generations get transmitted down from one generation to next in the form of anxiety

CONCEPT 7 SIBLING POSITION: states that a persons behavior is influenced by what sibling position they are born in and what sibling position that their parents are.

CONCEPT 8 SOCIETAL EMOTIONAL PROCESS: is really all the above concepts apply to a larger system called culture or society.

CONCEPT 9 SUPERNATURAL PHENOMENA: is really a catch all to explain behaviors that don't fall into the above categories, especially in the area of unexplained phenomena.

For more information, please visit the Bowen Georgetown Family Center website at www.thebowencenter.org.