Bowenian Family Therapy Model

Length: 2,500 words.

Choose one of the following topics:

1. Critique three eras of family therapy. Discuss the changing philosophical concepts underpinning each era and consider the ways that history has influenced present thinking in family therapy.

2. The family therapist has taken a range of therapeutic positions in relation to the family over time. Analyse the philosophy behind these positions. Discuss the position that you feel most aligned with and 
explore models best allow you to take this chosen position? 
Reference your answer to a case example.

3. Choose one of these classic schools of family therapy – Bowenian, Structural, and Milan Systemic. Consider how the theory and practice of this model has developed and provide a statement and rationale as to the relevance of the model to the contemporary practice of family therapy.


Bowenian theory regarding family therapy was first developed in 1960 and has served to be the yardstick of contemporary family therapy theories such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The initial concept of the theory revolved around the description of the relationship that takes place within a family unit. According to Brown (1999), some relationship within the family can amount to dysfunctional behaviour portrayed by a member of the family or more individual within the group. The evolution and development of practice and theory have been based on the interconnection between the eight principles proposed by Bowen. The eight hypotheses of the theory are based on mutual family members’ dependence (Becvar, 2009). In practice, Bowen’s theory has been used in explaining the discrepancies between other members of the family becoming more predisposed to dysfunctional conduct, that includes drug and substance abuse, developing the feeling of insufficiency and engaging in extramarital affairs. The evidence of the evolution of the Bowenian theory regarding family therapy is its contemporary application in the study of the establishment of family groups. The primary principle of the theory is the determination of one or more family members that have a higher affinity to absorb more emotions, as a result of conflicts happening between the family groups and has a higher susceptibility to dysfunctional behaviour (Brown, 1999). Bowen regards the effect of dysfunctional behaviour as a form of antisocial conduct that makes one to be detached from the society, and consequently could lead to disruptive behaviour. The Bowenian theory is based on the family therapy concept of familial relationships explored regarding members’ interdependence. Contrary to other beliefs about family therapy regarding an individual as the cause of personal problems, Bowenian theory regards the family as the unit that houses all emotional elements such that therapy can be effective by considering the whole family unit rather than an individual.  

Development and Principles of Bowenian Model The eight principles applied in the Bowenian theory include self-differentiation, the emotional system of the nuclear family, family projection, emotional cutoff, multigenerational transmission, sibling position, societal progression and triangulation (Cook, 2007). Self-differentiation is the most important element of the Bowenian theory, in that it forms the essential objective of modern family frameworks hypothesis. Bowen regard self-separation as the ability of an individual to distant themselves intellectually and mentally from their family. When individuals are not self-differentiated, they are excessively worried about acknowledgment and endorsement from other relatives and are likely to be held hostage by trans-generational impacts. There is a current situation, where Bowenian theory have been seen to be applied. For example, when a mother may be worried about the upkeep of a child regarding winning as endorsed by the child’s father, the father on the other hand, maybe troubled about the family custom or convictions about kid raising due to impacts of religion or level of education…

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