Monday, October 5, 2015

Bowenian Family Systems Therapy

Foundation

o Started by Murray Bowen
o Began at Meninger Clinic in late 1940s working with schizophrenics
o Bowen was stuck by the emotional sensitivity between patients and their mothers.
o At the heart of the problem was anxious attachment, a pathological form of closeness.

Basic Model
o Interested in system theory way of thinking.
o Bowen though we have less autonomy in our emotional lives than we assume.
o Most of us are more dependent and reactive to one another than we would like to think.
o Bowen describes how the family, as multigenerational network of relationships, shapes the interplay of individuality and togetherness using six interlocking concepts:

- Differentiation of self- Ego Strength * The capacity to think and reflect, instead of responding automatically.
* The ability to think and act wisely in the face of anxiety.
- Boundaries * Be yourself in spite of others
- Triangulation * Anxiety is a major influence.
* As anxiety increases, people experience a greater need for emotional triangles.
* Two people in a conflict will draw in a third person to try and fix the problem or take sides.
* This lets off steam but freezes conflict in place.
- Nuclear Family Emotional Process * Undifferentiated family ego mass.
* FUSION= families that are emotionally stuck together.
* Especially noticed in schizophrenic families.
- Multigenerational Transmission * Passing chronic anxiety from generation to generation.
- Emotional Cutoff * The way people manage anxiety between generations.
* The greater the emotional fusion between parents and children, the greater likelihood of a cutoff.
- Societal Emotional Process * Used early in the field of family therapy to acknowledge the influence of societal pressures/influences.
* Later used by feminist Bowenians Monica McGoldrick and Betty Carter who added gender and ethnicity.