Volume 5 Number 4Summer 2021
The Bowen Theory Advantage during the 2020-2021 Pandemic
This past year brings to mind Charles Dickens' famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities:

             "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
             it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
             it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
             it was the season of Light; it was the season of Darkness...”

It is not difficult to find examples of all of those sides of life in this remarkable year.

The year has provided a rich opportunity for the study of human nature and human behavior. Early in 2020, with the news of an outbreak of a particularly lethal virus, Covid-19, we became aware of an imminent and global threat to humanity. Around the world, families, communities, and nations responded to this threat in diverse ways, revealing a wide range of variation in resources and resourcefulness. Those who are familiar with Bowen theory had an extra advantage in having a lens with which to observe and make sense of what seemed like a chaos of emotional reactivity mixed with a search for reliable information and leadership.

Bowen’s knowledge of the emotional process in families and societies gave him a deep understanding of the human response to crisis. With this knowledge, we can see how systems move in both regressive and progressive directions as they adapt to rapid change and urgent need for solutions. The events of this year of multiple crises became easier to understand, if not easier to undergo, with the guidance of systems thinking.

Center for Family Consultation adapted to the requirements of social distancing, by engaging the magic of Zoom. It was a collaborative mission to maintain the quality of our teaching as we gained the technical skills to offer our training programs and conferences online. While we missed the “togetherness” of an in-person conference, we were pleased to find that attendance grew with the online format. We also observed a level of thoughtfulness in the dialogue between presenters and audience members that may have benefited from interaction in the virtual mode.

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW
Six CEUs, 3 Hours Apply to Cultural Competence in Illinois

Register Now for the
CFC Annual Summer Conference

Friday, July 23, 2021
9 AM to 4PM - Online

The Survival and Adaptation of the African American Family

Mignonette N. Keller, Ph.D.
Program Description

Center for Family Consultation is honored to have Dr. Mignonette Keller as the speaker for the 2021 Summer Conference. Her topic is timely and essential in a year that has been marked by racial violence and an uprising of protest against it. Leading thinkers in our society have suggested that this is a historic time, a time of “national reckoning” with our nation’s legacy of slavery. There is hope to be taken from the heightened public interest in looking at systemic racism in our country, and from the number of complex thinkers and writers who are looking beyond the surface to the roots of the problem.
Mignonette N. Keller, Ph.D.

Dr. Keller is the author of “A case study: Efforts toward differentiation of self among slaves and their descendants,” a landmark paper in the literature based on Bowen theory. Her research on the life course and family of one slave, her own ancestor, revealed many factors that went into his long life of high functioning and remarkable achievement. Dr. Keller is a leading scholar of African American history and family life, and brings in-depth knowledge of Bowen theory to her research and writing.
6 Continuing Education Credits (CEUs)

Approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits. Three of the six CEUs may be applied to the Cultural Competence training required in the State of Illinois. Center for Family Consultation is authorized by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation to offer training in Cultural Competency. This conference is an excellent way for clinicians to earn their CEUs to meet this requirement. No extra fee is being charged.
Application Deadline August 1st for 2021-22 CFC Postgraduate Training Program in Bowen Theory!
Online via Zoom
September 2021 to June 2022

A first-year student had this to say about her experience in the program this past year.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Post-Graduate Program at the Center for Family Consultation. The program in general and the instructors in particular have helped me look at my family of origin with a systems perspective. It has felt like putting on a new pair of glasses with different lens. Some of my family relationships have changed dramatically. I have also developed new skills as a clinician. I am a police social worker. My job responsibilities include crisis and short-term counseling, Employee Assistance Program, and community relations. Learning Bowen theory/concepts have proven to be invaluable in my professional interactions. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of the program.”
Alberta Petrosko LCSW
Trainee, CFC Postgraduate Training Program in Bowen Family Systems
Village of Northbrook

The CFC Postgraduate Training Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Therapy includes individuals from various professions: health care, ministry, business, education. Each trainee acquires an understanding of how emotional process operates in systems through nine monthly day-long class sessions on zoom, including the important activity of applying this understanding to her/his own situation.

The family of origin work, a key component of the program, enables the trainee to add a “felt” experience to their understanding of the eight concepts. Observing the family work of their co-trainees provides an education in the great variations of life experiences, all different yet all sharing the fundamental process of all living systems. It also provides an opportunity to observe a faculty member “coaching” or working with a trainee in the same manner one would with clients in a clinical session or in providing leadership for a work group or congregation.

This online program begins on September 10, 2021. For further information contact Sydney Reed, MSW
Family Of Origin Reflection
Ethan Strauss, MSW, CFC Postgraduate Trainee

"The family of origin group portion of the Bowen Family Systems training program was of tremendous benefit to me. The benefit has been deeply personal, as well as invaluable to my clinical practice. It gave me a roadmap to work on myself and better understand who I am. It also taught what I need to better understand about myself and my family. As Bowen says, no one should be consulting with families until they have done the work in their own family. My relationships with my spouse, children, siblings, and parents have all been greatly improved through my work in the family of origin group. I am less emotionally reactive and have learned to be a better observer of myself and my family. Professionally, it is hard to quantify the benefits of this group. It has provided a space to work on self that I can now confidently provide to clients and families that are seeking help. My ability to identify areas of strength and difficulty in any family has dramatically improved over only one year in the Bowen training program. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to study Bowen theory and work on improving my own life over this past year."
CFC Faculty and Alumni in Print, Spring 2021

Two CFC Postgraduate Training Program alumnae have articles in the Spring issue of “Family Systems Forum” published by CSNSF.
Regina Ferrera, MSW, “The Pandemic of 2020: Ideas from Bowen Theory.”

This article is an overview of facts on the pandemic and the way it has been managed in different parts of the world. The author applies Bowen theory to understand how the wide range of responses led to more effective and less effective containment of Covid-19.
Jennifer Howe, LCSW, “Becoming a ‘Bowen Therapist’.”

Ms. Howe proposes that the therapist’s effort toward differentiation of self in her own family is essential to being qualified to work with client families. She illustrates this with examples of the difference that this effort has made in her own life and her practice as a therapist.   
CFC Faculty in Print Coming Fall, 2021
Robert J. Noone, PhD is the author of a new book, Family and Self: Bowen Theory and the Shaping of Adaptive Capacity, being published by Lexington Books. It will be available fall, 2021. Dr. Noone is also the editor of Family Systems: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences and co-edited the book The Family Emotional System: An Integrative Concept for Theory, Science and Practice in 2017.
Stephanie Ferrera, MSW is the guest editor of an expanded issue of Family Systems: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences to be published this Fall. This special issue will be focused on the topic of climate change and will include articles by Victoria Harrison, Daniel Papero, Stephanie Ferrera, and evolutionary economist John Gowdy.
What are CFC faculty reading this summer?

Recommendation: CFC faculty member Cecilia Guzman, MS read Premonition by Michael Lewis: “(It's) amazing, riveting, educating. I highly recommend this book!”

Book review in the New York Times:

Sydney Reed, MSW, liked Premonition well enough that she wrote her own review of it below:

"Premonition by Michael Lewis is a fascinating story about a small group of health professionals and other scientists who found each other through an incredible network of people concerned that our government was not handling the Covid-19 pandemic correctly.
"Two of them had previously reviewed the history of the 1918 flu epidemic to help develop a plan for a future pandemic during the Bush administration. They again carefully looked at the facts and realized that the earlier researchers had ignored the timing factor. When you factored that in, social distancing and early intervention, which didn't happen early enough in 1918, would have been the key to a different outcome.
"The book details the frustration of the researchers as they got more information from various sources that this strange virus in China might be a serious worldwide problem. They looked for more histories of epidemics: Sars, swine flu, and more. They recognized patterns that contributed to their conviction that this China virus must be taken seriously. They were people willing to think outside the box to solve problems. People who trusted science (done responsibly) such as modeling by computers and facts from other communicable less serious diseases. They talked about trying to get a big picture of how this viral system operated. They were doing what they love to do, but for the country and people who might die, as well as for themselves.
"These are names I'd never heard of…people who found a way to FINALLY get the attention of people with some power...namely, the governor of California. To make the case for social distancing, lockdowns, testing in order to get more important facts of how the virus was spreading, leading bright PhD's in California to volunteer their time to make vaccines, getting smaller firms like Moderna to manufacture the vaccines at a reasonable price and quickly, and so on...

"The book reports the usual themes of greed, FEAR, lack of action in the face of uncertainty in many parts of the country. This group of concerned scientists and medical people showed incredible leadership collaborating with their many talents, acting with courage and responsibility, putting their necks on the line (taking strong “I” positions), combining the thinking system with the emotional system; showing the charts developed by modeling to explain the fast acting spread of the virus and then asking lawmakers if they would let their children go to school if there was a chance that the virus turned out to be deadly? There are lots of examples of differentiation in this story.  It’s an exciting read. I recommend it." 

Recommendation: Cecilia Guzman reread People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by Scott Peck. “It's an old book which I read decades ago before I became better versed in Bowen Theory. As I read it now, many thoughts have surprised me. I think it's well worth reading”.

CFC faculty presenting Fall, 2021

September 25, 2021, Dr. Robert Noone will be presenting to the Advanced Study and Research Seminar at Bowen Theory South Florida.

November 5 and 6, 2021, Dr. Noone will be presenting "Family, the Brain, and Homo sapiens" at the 58th Symposium on Family Systems Theory, sponsored by The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, DC.

Stuck!! Functionally helpless!
The Challenge of Change and Progress

Registration Information coming soon!

Online via Zoom October 22, 2021

Guest Lecturer Daniel Papero, Ph.D.

Darwin referred to the “struggle for existence” that faces all living creatures—a lifetime of challenge. The pressure to adapt to changing conditions waxes and wanes across a lifetime, but it never disappears. When that pressure intensifies, people respond with varying degrees of competency. Individuals and family systems often appear stuck, unable to shift their perception of their lives, their situations, and unable to function more effectively and efficiently.

Murray Bowen used the term “functionally helpless” to describe the stuck family. The functioning of the family system repeats the same maneuvers over and over, making little or no progress on addressing the challenges faced. His answer to the dilemma lies in the concept of differentiation, an individual’s effort to shift functioning to greater effectiveness and efficiency while maintaining viable emotional contact with important others in the family system.
In this talk, Dr. Papero will describe the idea of functional helplessness and some of the factors that contribute to it. The clinical effort with the family aims at addressing the dilemma of functional helplessness by facilitating the effort of one or more family members to “function up”, to improve the functional level of differentiation of self.
More of CFC’s Upcoming Events & Online Courses

July 23, 2021: Summer Conference—Online via Zoom
Guest Lecturer: Mignonette N. Keller, Ph.D.
Note: 6 CEUs, 3 may be applied to Cultural Competency requirement for registration in the State of Illinois

September 7, 2021 Clinical Supervision Online Study Group—a monthly online course through May 3, 2022.
CFC Faculty Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW
18 CEUs

September 23, 2021 Bowen Family Systems Theory 101—a weekly online course starting September 23rd for 8 consecutive weeks through November 11, 2021.
CFC Faculty Cecilia Guzman, MS
8 CEUs

October 22, 2021: Fall Conference—Online via Zoom
Guest Lecturer: Dr. Daniel V. Papero, Ph.D.
6 CEUs
October 28, 2021 Leading a Business in Anxious Times—a monthly online course through May 19, 2022.
CFC Faculty Leslie Ann Fox, MA, and Patty Sheridan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA
16 CEUs

CFC News published quarterly by Center for Family Consultation

"The goal...is to rise up out of the emotional togetherness that binds us all."
Murray Bowen, M.D.