Summer D. Parrott
March 1, 2015
This paper will summarize the theory of family systems developed by Murray Bowen. It will describe the eight key components to Bowenian therapy and the techniques used during practice. Strengths and limitations will be exposed, followed by a summary of the importance of integration between psychology and family systems theory.
Keywords: Bowen, integration, family systems theory
Bowen family systems theory is based on the view that the family is an emotional unit. The theory uses systems thinking to describe the interactions and relationships within the family. Given families are deeply emotionally connected, family members can influence each other’s thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. The connectedness of the members of a family provides for each person to unknowingly solicit approval, support and attention from the other members. (Brown, 1999). Likewise, when one person in the family experiences a change, it has a ripple effect as it carries out to the other family members. All families share some amount of interdependence. Anxiety and tension can cause more than one member to show stress due to the emotional connectedness of the members. The interaction is reciprocal. Bowenian therapy was designed for use with families, but has also proven to be useful in marital therapy (Glade, 2005).
Development of Bowenian Theory & Leading Figures
Dr. Murray Bowen (1913-1990) was trained as a psychiatrist and originally treated patients using the psychoanalytic model. In the late 1940’s, he began to involve mothers in the therapeutic plan for schizophrenic patients. Originally practicing at the Menninger Clinic, he moved to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) in 1954. During this transition, he started to view patients as part of a family system rather than as individuals. As he continued to practice, Dr. Bowen
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