1st Edition

Bringing Systems Thinking to Life Expanding the Horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory

Edited By Ona Cohn Bregman, Charles M. White Copyright 2011
    432 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    430 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In a single volume, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life: Expanding the Horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory presents the extraordinary diversity and breadth of Bowen theory applications that address human functioning in various relationship systems across a broad spectrum of professions, disciplines, cultures, and nations. Providing three chapters of never-before-published material by Dr. Bowen, the book also demonstrates the transcendent nature and versatility of Bowen theory-based social assessment and its extension into fields of study and practice far beyond the original psychiatric context in which it was first formulated including social work, psychology, nursing, education, literary studies, pastoral care and counseling, sociology, business and management, leadership studies, distance learning, ecological science, and evolutionary biology. Providing ample evidence that Bowen theory has joined that elite class of theories that have enjoyed broad application to social phenomena while lending credibility to the claim that Bowen theory is one of the previous and current centuries’ most significant social-behavioral theories. More than a “resource manual” for Bowen theory enthusiasts, this book helps put a new great theory on the intellectual landscape.

    Section I: Theoretical Considerations in Learning Systems Thinking and Bowen Theory. Comella, Observing Emotional Functioning in Human Relationship Systems: Lessons from Murray Bowen's Writings. Bourne, Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics. Kerr, An Obstacle to "Hearing" Bowen Theory. Papero, Responsibility for Self. Harrison, Live Learning: Differentiation of Self as the Basis for Learning. Friesen, Lester, A Systems View of the Training Program at the Bowen Center: Guiding Principles (1990-2003). Bregman, Managing Self in Emotional Fields when Presenting Bowen Theory. Section II: Established Domains for Systems Thinking and Bowen Theory. White, Learners Without Teachers: The Simultaneous Learning About Self-functioning and Bowen Theory by Supervisor, Staff, Interns, and Clients in an Outpatient Program. Howard, Clarifying Principles for Investing in Self. Hall, Can Undergraduates Learn Bowen Theory? Wilgus, Incorporating Bowen Theory into an Undergraduate Social Work Curriculum: An Exercise in the Responsible Management of Self. Kerr, Bowen Theory in Undergraduate and Graduate Nursing Education. Frost, Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training. Crimone, Hester, Across the Generations: The Training of Clergy and Congregations. Papero, How Bowen Theory Can be Useful to People in the Workplace: A Conversation with Kathy Wiseman and Dan Papero. Norton, Bringing Bowen Theory to Family Business. Romig, Bowen System Theory and the Chain Reaction of Bad Leadership and Good Leadership. Engels, Introducing Bowen Theory to Business Leaders. Bourne, Misunderstandings from the Family Field: Selected Segments by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics. Section III: New Horizons for Systems Thinking and Bowen Theory. Lester, Integrating Bowen Theory with Academic Research, Teaching, and Service. Hargrove, The Critical Reader as a Scientist: Approaching Literature from the Perspective of Bowen Theory. Schur, A Supervision Model Based in Bowen Theory and Language. Knauth, Introducing Adolescents to Systems Thinking: Learning to See the Self as Part of a System. Baker, Titleman, Bowen Theory in Russia: A Training Program for Russian Psychologists. Brown, Restless Bedfellows: Taking Bowen Theory into a Child-focused Adolescent Treatment Unit in Australia. Kolski-Andreaco, Learning Bowen Theory from a Distance. Nel, Bowen Theory and Zulu Understanding of Family. Howard, Building Bridges into the Natural Sciences: Field Research on Harvester Ants. Greenberg, Social Behavior in Nonhuman Animals: A Behavioral Model of Proximate Mechanisms Based on Bowen Theory. Bourne, A Science of Human Behavior for the Future: Selected Segments by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics. Appendix: Bowen Theory Training Centers & Contributor Organizations.


    Ona Cohn Bregman, MSS is former Associate Professor of Social Work at Syracuse University, chair of the School of Social Work’s Family Mental Health Concentration from 1991 to 1998, selected by her peers as "Social Work Teacher of the Year" in 1995, and served on the board of the Syracuse Family Center from 1991 to 2001. The Mental Health Association of Onondaga County, NY awarded Ms. Bregman their Lifetime Achievement award in 2007. She continues a small clinical and supervisory practice in semi-retirement.

    Charles M. White, MSW, is a social work field liaison with Rutgers University’s School of Social Work (New Brunswick and Newark, NJ) and a doctoral student at Rutgers University’s Graduate School—New Brunswick. He also maintains a Bowen theory–based psychotherapy, supervision, consultation, and training practice in Westfield, NJ. Since completing his Master of Social Work degree at Syracuse University in 1992, Mr. White has held several clinical, supervisory, research, and adjunct academic positions.

    "For me, as a biologist, the central value of Bowen theory lies in the way that it puts the emotional lives of individuals into context, evaluating individuals with attention to family and other interpersonal dynamics, and to the evolutionary and ecological connections between humans and the rest of nature. This book puts Bowen theory itself into context, not only reviewing its uses in clinical practice, but also extending its applications to social analysis, international relations, business, pastoral ministry, and the work lives of university faculty." - Mary Beth Saffo, PhD, Adjunct Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

    "Good leaders are always looking for novel ways to deepen their understanding of how things work and how they might be able to achieve ever better results in their lives and their work. This book provides exactly the right kind of stimulation for anyone seeking that kind of growth. It is a thoughtful compendium designed to stir the brain and heart to better understanding and better leadership." - Bob Watt, Vice-President of State and Local Government Relations and Global Corporate Citizenship (retired), The Boeing Company

    "Bowen formulated a way of thinking about ‘homo sapiens’ that he believed was unique and potentially capable, over time, of revolutionizing the way people think about their lives and their relationships. Although he knew it would take a long, long time, he hoped his theory would continue to develop until society would be ready to ‘hear’ the theory’s message. With the publication of this text, Bregman and White have emerged as new members of an elite group of ‘keepers of the flame’. Their efforts at presenting various contexts in which Bowen theory can be fruitfully applied deserve your sustained attention. If Bowen’s key concepts intrigue your brain, this book will stimulate your thinking and perhaps lead to the development of other creative applications of the theory." - Philip J. Guerin, MD, distinguished lecturer and practitioner of family systems psychiatry; Founding Director of the Center for Family Learning in Rye Brook, NY; former faculty member at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY; Senior Author: The Evaluation and Treatment of Marital Conflict, & Working with Relationship Triangles

    "Bowen’s systems theory is the dominant paradigm in the field of family enterprise. Many of the field’s leading theorists and practitioners are so educated – including several authors in this powerfully comprehensive collection. Everyone working with families will find this book invaluably rich." - John L. Ward, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Family Enterprises, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

    "For those interested in learning about Bowen theory, Mr. White and Ms. Bregmans’ book offers both a broad range of topics and in depth study of its application. The chapters span the breadth from theoretical perspectives by internationally known leaders to its application in education, research, supervision, clinical work, pastoral work, the workplace, and society. Bringing Systems Theory to Life offers a wealth of knowledge for students, professionals, and those interested in the many realms where Bowen theory can be applied to understand the underlying emotional process in relationship systems." - Anne S. McKnight, LCSW, Ed.D., Faculty, Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington, DC

    "Bringing Systems Thinking to Life clearly demonstrates the saying that ‘nothing is more practical than a good theory.’ Family systems theory is meant to be lived and this deeply thoughtful, outstanding collection of articles by recognized leaders demonstrates, as the editors say, ‘the breadth and universality of Bowen theory.’" - Dr. Ronald W. Richardson, former Clinical Director, North Shore Counseling Center, North Vancouver, BC; Pastoral Counselor & Pastor (retired); Author: Couples in Conflict, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, Creating a Healthier Church, & Becoming Your Best

    "This collection of edited papers by Bowen practitioners demonstrates the remarkable depth of Bowen family system theory and its many applications to family life, the work place, and local and national governments. Collectively, these contributions reveal Bowen’s greatest intellectual contribution to science – his belief that humans are subject to the same natural forces that govern all life forms, and that emotional functioning governs all relationship existing within and among families, their societies, and the planet earth. Included in these contributions are transcriptions of Bowen’s lectures given in the late 1980’s, years after papers in Family Therapy in Clinical Practice were written. Here, Bowen describes in his elegant and often direct language the growth of his theory. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the human condition." - Joanne Bowen, Ph.D., Curator, Zooarcheology Collections, Conservation, and Museums, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Research Professor, Anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

    "Systems thinking...surpasses being an interesting way to analyze organizations – it is necessary for healthy survival in many workplaces and families...Bringing Systems Thinking to Life ably introduces systems theory to newcomers, as well as, charts its present standing among organizational theorists and therapists, and anticipates the increasing role it will enjoy as leaders continue to discover how their role is strengthened by self-definition, clarity, and a non-anxious presence." - Harold Stringfellow, Archdeacon, The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, PA

    "A remarkable work! The authors of Bringing Systems Thinking to Life provide fresh observations on family emotional process and the importance of family systems theory to understanding human functioning." - Charles W. Collier, Senior Philanthropic Adviser, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Author: Wealth in Families