Bowen Theory in Paradise
Passing the Baton, the Next Generation

The fourth International Conference will be held in Miami, Florida, February 22-24, 2024.

Here is the list of presenters and presentation topics that will be held at the International Conference 2024:

Alejandro Astorga

Sexual Abuse in the Family: Adolescents Who Abuse Their Siblings. Use of Bowen's Family Systems Theory

This presentation will address the processes of violence and abuse in the family, particularly when children or adolescents sexually abuse their siblings from Murray Bowen's Family Systems Theory. Understanding the family as an emotional unit is key in this endeavor.

John Bell

From Family Research to Organizational Leadership: The Transferability of Theory and Its Application

Dr. Murray Bowen pioneered a theory of human behavior and expanded his theory and concepts using a scientific approach. As practitioners of the theory zoom out to include multiple families, institutions and environmental factors, the number of variables increases exponentially. Despite these challenges, leaders in business, nonprofits and faith communities have benefited from Bowen theory. Dr. Bowen noticed that when therapists focused on researching, observing emotional process and working on differentiation of self in their family they became more effective therapists. This presentation seeks to examine how organizational leaders who research their families also benefit from the work of differentiation of self.

Joanne Bowen, Ph.D.

The Human Link to the Land and Its Resources

This presentation will draw on ethnographic literature to reconstruct the family is the core unit, the direct link through which societies procure a living from the land. Through the lens of group selection, attention will be paid to how foragers and agriculturalists cooperate, manage, and resolve competition for resources.

Laura Brooks

Within-Family Variation in the Impact of a Grandfather's Death in the Family

Bowen Family Systems Theory posits that the death of an important family member may lead to a 'shockwave' phenomenon in the family system that could endure for generations. This study of a shockwave in one family asks the research question: Can an emotional shockwave and its variable impact on family members be documented in the multigenerational emotional process?

Jenny Brown, Ph.D.

The Intransigence of an Anxious Child Focus -- It's Hard to Give Up a 'Good Thing'

This paper aims to understand barriers to parents' reducing child focus. Drawing on clinical examples, the functional benefits and costs of child focus will be presented. How do parents tolerate the dysregulation of shifting their focus?

Christopher Burnett

Relationship Systems as Natural Science: Reconsidering the Emotional System Through a Physics Lens

Bowen firmly placed his concept of the emotional system within the natural systems framework of biology. This presentation will discuss the effectiveness of teaching about this concept by placing it in the larger natural systems context of physics.

Guillermo Cancio-Bello

Student Engagement With Bowen Theory

Exploring the impact of engaging with Bowen Theory on the personal and professional lives of students. How is theory useful to students? What sticks, and what gets misunderstood? Does it influence their work with clients, and if so, how? We'll tackle these questions and more in this brief talk.

Kathleen Cauley

Knowing Family Patterns: Improving the Coach's Vision in the Clinical Setting

This presentation will focus on the intersection of a coach's efforts on Differentiation in their own family and the patterns that play out in the clinical setting. The impact of anxiety on the functioning of the coach will be highlighted.

Peggy Chan, M.Ed., R.S.W.

In-Law Triangles

The high degree of dependency (physical dependency and emotional dependency) between the adult couple and their elderly parents sets the stage for the intense manifestations of triangles between the in-laws. The presenter will discuss the forms of common triangles, the unresolved emotional attachment of the parties concerned and ways to manage self in these in-law triangles.

Carrie Collier

Seeing the Family As a Natural System: A Paradigm Shift That Can Make Change Happen

Researchers and therapists can better understand the current emotional reactivity in the system by understanding the history of nuclear and extended families' emotional patterns. The assessment of family mechanisms to manage anxiety over generations is critical to identify emotional reactivity and to make changes in the automatic emotional responses. The Family Unit Functioning Questionnaire (FUFQ) is an instrument that allows researchers to assess family unit functioning in the past that links to the current (Collier & Villareal, 2022).

Alicia Cruzat

Training in Murray Bowen's Theory of Family Systems: Contributions of Knowledge From Other Sciences to the Understanding of Its Premises and Theoretical Assumptions

Human behavior is largely regulated by the same natural processes that govern the behavior of all other living things. This presentation will explore the implications of these assumptions in the training of new therapists after more than 20 years of teaching experience in Chile

Randy Frost

Clinical Research Based on Bowen Theory

This presentation will outline a model of clinical research informed by the same method Dr. Bowen used to develop the theory. Clinical vignettes will illustrate how the model can be used to improve the functioning of the therapist and to test the efficacy of the theory.

Eileen Gottlieb

Antisemitism and the Functioning of the Jewish People

The response of the Jewish people to antisemitism has contributed to both their extinction and preservation. Understanding man's place in the natural world and the role of societal emotional process and differentiation of self may bring greater clarity about the functioning of a community that has been the object of a centuries-long projection process. What can Bowen theory lend to this conversation?

Victoria Harrison

Bowen Theory and the Natural World

Bowen Theory and the Natural World will describe implications for understanding human nature as part of evolution. The impact of factors in the natural and social environment on health and reproduction will be discussed, along with directions for responsible action based in differentiation of self.

Elsa Hines

Communication Issues: Shifting the Focus From the Other to the Self

In my clinical work, couples cite "communication issues" as the main reason they seek therapy. Most times, this "issue" implies emotional reactivity, two people that are focused on the other's perception, understanding, agreement (or lack thereof) and disconnected from the self. I've researched how long it takes for couples to shift from the focus on the other as the problem to being able to see the part they play as well as factors that account for differences, including the role of the therapist.

LeAnn Howard

Explorers of Natural Systems: Possibilities and Challenges Ahead

Each August beginning in 2004, Ms. Howard has joined a team of researchers in the field study of harvester ant behavior under the direction of Dr. Deborah M. Gordon. Interesting insights have emerged regarding collective behavior across natural systems including the human family. New possibilities are ahead.

Selden Illick

Does Resolving Degrees of Unresolved Emotional Attachment Make A Difference in Work on Differentiation of Self?

Murray Bowen equated the degree of unresolved emotional attachment developed in the parental triangle in childhood to one's degree of undifferentiation. The presenter will illustrate how this understanding informed her awareness of persistent behavior patterns repeating in adulthood.

Joan Jurkowski

The Emotional Shock Wave: Importance of a Family Leader

A case presentation is used to examine what happens in a family, which loses an important member and no new leader emerges. The value of a family member, who operates from systems thinking, will be discussed.

Mignonette Keller

The Survival and Adaption of the African-American Family

This study applies Bowen family systems theory to investigate the mechanisms influencing the functioning of the African American family from a systems perspective. Bowen theory provides the framework for understanding how people function within both their family system and the larger society. The emotional system as conceptualized in Bowen theory provides the context for understanding human behavior and human functioning based on the emotional functioning of an organism in relationship to other organisms and the environment.

Phil Klever

Viable Emotional Contact Vs. Cutoff and Nuclear Family Functioning

This presentation describes the association between emotional cutoff and nuclear family functioning longitudinally in a research sample. The following aspects of multigenerational involvement will be examined: contact and openness, knowledge of facts, geographic proximity, and being present and accounted for.

Daniela Kupfer

Usefulness and Implications of Bowen's Theory Application in Families Therapeutic Treatment in Which Children Have Experienced Violence

Bowen's theory provides a useful framework for systemic observation in the intervention of violence. The presentation is about observations of the emotional process made within the context of working with families in which child abuse has arisen and may continue.

Anne McNight

The Emotional System in Nature and in the Human Family: Differentiation as a Human Capacity

A central hypothesis of Bowen theory is the importance of the emotional system in regulating the functioning of the human and in the human family. This presentation will investigate how the emotional system evolved in the natural world and will illustrate its functioning in a human family over four generations.

Mariana Martinez

Emotional Maturity in the Management of Transgenerational Wealth

Stable financial functioning impacts the multigenerational family's well being. Work with families in a financial institution revealed that Differentiation of Self is associated with better communication about money matters, individual members' relative financial autonomy, financial acumen, appropriate planning and productive use of advisors.

Ann V. Nicholson RN, MS, CS

Mankind's Relationship With the Earth Via the Lens of Bowen Theory

It is a scientific fact that human activity is the driving force altering our climate. This presentation will explore humankind's historical relationship with the Earth and the impact it has had on human functioning and the organization of social groups. Bowen theory offers a unique lens to study the emotional process as we explore the human's relationship with the land and each other.

Robert J. Noone, Ph.D.

Family Oneness and Individual Variation in Differentiation of Self

The relationship between the maturation of the intellectual system and the emotional separation of an individual from the family over the course of development will be discussed.

Daniel V. Papero

Triangle Theory: A Set of Rules Without a Manual

The concept of the triangle, one of the eight concepts that formally constitute the Bowen Theory, stands alongside the concept of the scale of differentiation of self at the heart of the theory. The triangle forms the most basic loop or circuit in the family system. Emotional tension energizes the triangle. The "circuit" of the single triangle provides binary options for response for each person -- move toward or away from the other(s) -- as each seeks to gain and maintain emotional comfort.

Amie Post

Beyond Power and Control: Bowen Theory's Contribution to Domestic Violence Intervention

This presentation highlights how Bowen theory promotes understanding and responses to the problem of domestic violence at the individual and systems level in ways that respect the seriousness of domestic violence and promotes long term development of differentiation of self.

Helen Reynolds

Learning to Laugh With My Mother: The Functions of Play and Humor in Defining a Self

This presentation will explore 1) the evolution of play as a mechanism for the development of emotional calibration, 2) the function of play and humor in the human effort to define a self, and 3) how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb.

Lance Simkins

The Obesity Epidemic; Medical Science and Bowen Theory

Roughly 40% of Americans struggle with the disease of obesity. Over 70% are overweight or obese. This disease extends worldwide and has been termed "Globesity." I am a practicing Cardiologist and board‑certified in Obesity Medicine. I have been using Bowen Theory at several levels to better assess and assist my patients. I will present research covering the biologic, social and medical complexities of obesity and how the science aligns with Bowen Family Systems Theory. I will review my experience and address what it will take to demonstrate its potential as a useful approach towards behavior modification leading to improved weight management specifically as well as other parameters of health.

Walter Smith

Use of Bowen Family Systems Theory to Address Family Violence and Human Inequities

Family violence and human inequities are common in every society and they are related to health and social problems. Bowen theory offers a different way of addressing these problems as they are an aspect of emotional systems. The presentation will illustrate efforts to rethink clinical services and philanthropy with the use of Bowen theory.

Patrick Stinson

Family Diagram, Induction, and a Data-Driven Future for Bowen Theory

What are the barriers for Bowen Theory receiving service, good-faith critique from the broader scientific community? Weaknesses in Bowen Theory as science will be explored along with proposed solutions.

Jean Tai

Leading the Organization in an Unstable Time

How the leader can lead the organization to make changes to deal with the perceived threats? This case example throws insights on systems thinking approach to identify the interlocking triangles, the emotional reactivity in the organization and how leader can response in a rational and thoughtful way.

Katherine White

Looking at Leadership Transitions Through the Lens of Family

This presentation will discuss my functioning in a leadership transition in the organization in which I work. I will look to leadership transitions in my own family to predict how I may respond to increased responsibility in the work system.

Sarah Worch, Ph.D
Suzanne Bartle-Haring, Ph.D

Similarity in Differentiation Among Couples

This presentation explores research studies that used varying differentiation assessments to investigate Bowen's proposition that individuals select partners similar in differentiation. The data suggests that couples are more similar in differentiation than randomly matched individuals. Similarity in differentiation, relational and individual outcomes will be discussed.

Kathy Wiseman

Lessons Learned: Bowen Systems Theory and Work Systems

For 40 years, Bowen Theory has intrigued me and led me to strive toward thinking Bowen Family Systems in related and non-related work systems. The presentation will present the successful and not so successful applications of Bowen Theory to the workplace.