Comparison Between Bowen Family System and Solution Focused Therapy

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Comparison between Bowen Family System and Solution Focused Therapy

Lennie Soo Mei Yoke

Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors

Comparison between Bowen Family System and Solution Focused Therapy

This essay aims to compare and contrast the classical Bowen Family System Therapy to the more modern Solution Focused Therapy. Comparison will be made in the following areas (1) broad theoretical formulations, (2) normal family development, (3) development of behavioural disorder, (4) goals of therapy, (5) conditions for behavioural change, (6) assessment methods and (7) techniques. Note that in the last decade, parts of Bowen’s theories have been criticized due to the paucity of empirical evidence. For example, his theories on sibling position and triangulation are not supported (Miller, Anderson, & Keals, 2004). For the purpose of comparison, we will include these concepts in this essay and not dispute its validity. The purpose of this essay is to place both the theories side-by-side in order to gain a perspective on the theoretical, conceptual and practical underpinning of both the theories. An interesting result of the comparison is a broad illustration of the evolution of family therapy since the 1960s to present day.

Theoretically Bowen Family System therapy and Solution Focused therapy are as different as night and day. Bowen family system opposes linear cause-and-effect thinking. On the other side of the coin, Solution Focused therapy is theoretically driven by cause-and-effect thinking (Piercy, Sprenkle, & Wetchler, 1996). Pioneers of both therapies are ambitious and revolutionary in their own way. Murray Bowen claims that his theory is universal and he approached his work with this goal in mind, to produce a universal theory for family system therapy (Bowen, 1978). The result of this goal is the Bowen Family System that provides by far, the most comprehensive view of human behaviour and problems (Nichols, 2010, pp 137). Steve...
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