CFC New s
Volume 4  Number 1                                                                 Fall 2019

On Emotional Cutoff... 

"The concept deals with the way people separate themselves from the past in order to start their lives in the present generation. Much thought went into the selection of a term to best describe this process of separation, isolation, withdrawal, running away, or denying the importance of the parental family.

"The principal manifestation of the emotional cutoff is the denial of the intensity of the unresolved emotional attachment to parents, acting and pretending to be more independent than one is, and emotional distance achieved either through internal mechanisms or physical distance."

Murray Bowen. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1978 (p. 536)

2019 Annual Fall Conference

Friday, October 25, 2019
Evanston, Illinois

Daniel V. Papero, Ph.D.
One of the later concepts added to the Bowen theory, the concept of cut-off addresses emotional distance that develops between generations in a family system. More colloquially the term has been employed to describe the distance that develops between any family members, not just cross-generationally. The loss of good emotional contact can occur in many ways. It can be marked by intense anger to gradual slow drifting loss of contact.

The day will review the concept of cut-off, its appearance and function for the family unit and the benefits and costs that follow from it. It will also review the clinician's efforts to address cut-off in the family system. While each clinician may approach it slightly differently, some basic fundamentals appear universal and will be discussed.

Dr. Papero lectures both nationally and internationally on Bowen theory and is on the faculty of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the book
Bowen Family Systems Theory and co-editor of the recently published book,  The Family Emotional System: An Integrative Concept for Theory, Science, and Practice (2015). His publications also include numerous book chapters and journal articles. He maintains clinical and consultation practice in Washington, D.C.

CFC Celebrates our 40th Anniversary!
Congratulations to our co-founders
and fearless leaders for the past 40 years...
Stephanie Ferrera, MSW; Carol Moran, MSW;
Bob Noone, PhD; Sydney Reed, MSW.

Plan Ahead for the 2020-2021
Applications are being accepted for the next session of the training program beginning September, 2020. The post-graduate training program grounds clinical practitioners, clergy, and organizational consultants and leaders in Bowen theory and its application in therapy, consultation, and leadership. This training program is designed for professionals seeking to enhance professional growth, work on level of differentiation of self, interested in the latest scientific research in the neurosciences, leadership development, child development, and the natural sciences. The CFC post-graduate training program is taught by Bowen theory practitioners.

In a recent blog on CFC's The Systems Thinker, Leslie Ann Fox, MA, CFC faculty member describes what is unique about Bowen theory and why learning Bowen theory in a post-graduate program is the beginning of a life-long learning project. She wrote:

"Learning Bowen theory is the most important life-long learning project I have tackled. I did not know it at first, but I signed on for life when I embarked on the study of Bowen theory. In the beginning I found it hard to consistently think systems, as it does not come naturally. Our society's culture is individually focused and not inclined to consider context or the fundamental interdependence of humans when it comes to the behavior of our family, friends and colleagues. However, I found it harder to stop trying to think systems after I had made the effort for a while, and had some success with it personally and then professionally. Thirty years into this extraordinary adventure in learning, I can say I am still learning (sometimes relearning) and getting new insights. It is the best thing I ever did for myself, my family and my work and friendship systems. The theory was Bowen's gift to the world, and I am grateful for having encountered it."

The post-graduate training program of the Center for Family Consultation is a two-year program with 54 hours of training scheduled each year, one day a month, from September to June. Eight of the training sessions are held on the first Friday of the month from 9am to 4pm. These training days are divided into four sections:

  • Clinical Theory
  • Clinical Consultation
  • Natural Systems Theory
  • Family of Origin Consultation

Beware! Once you start learning and using Bowen theory to make sense of human behavior, your natural curiosity about your own family and the families of the clients you are working with will draw you into an enriching life-long learning process that can keep you growing and maturing forever. Bowen theory, grounded in the natural sciences, has continued to evolve for over 70 years, based on the latest scientific research. It never gets old or outdated for those who keep up with new aspects of the theory that are being studied and verified or expanded upon by scientists and Bowen theory scholars. So take the leap for self. No pressure. You have the rest of your life to keep working on differentiation of self with deeper and deeper understanding and appreciation of Bowen theory as time goes by.

For further information, contact Sydney Reed, MSW.

CFC Faculty Out and About

Bob Noone, PhD
Bob Noone, Ph.D., CFC faculty member and editor of the Family Systems Journal, is presenting at the 56th Annual Symposium on Family Systems Theory, November 8-9, 2019. The title of his presentation is "The Adaptive Function of Emotional Cutoff."

Bob Williamson, MDiv

Bob Williamson, M.Div., CFC faculty member is presenting "The Emotional Function of Pseudo-Self Beliefs and the Role of Doubt in Bowen Theory" on October 21, 2019, for the online Faith Leadership Program of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family.

Bowen Theory Around the World...

The Third International Conference, "Managing Relations in a Changing World - Bowen Theory in Organizations, Families and Communities," Sweden, June 15-17, 2020. Mark your calendars now!

Join Bowen theory colleagues at the  3rd International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory in Swedish Lapland next June. You can exchange ideas about Bowen theory with professionals from around the world. Experience the dynamics of learning through lectures and workgroups in the exotic environment of the Far North. The sun shines all day and all night in Lapland in June. Keynote speakers include Bowen theory experts Dr. Anne S. McKnight, Director of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington, DC; Dr. Daniel V. Papero, faculty at the Bowen Center, Washington, DC; Dr. Michael E. Kerr, President of the Bowen Theory Academy, Islesboro, Maine; Ms. Kathleen Wiseman, faculty at the Bowen Center, Washington, DC, and founder and president of Working Systems, Inc.; and Ms. Victoria Harrison, Director of the Center for the Study of Natural Systems and the Family, Houston, TX, and faculty at the Bowen Center, Washington, DC. Papers will also be presented and discussed by Bowen theory experts from around the world. Read more about the Bowenforum Sweden, a non-profit organization which aims to spread knowledge and inspire the use of Bowen theory.

CFC Online video courses make it possible for busy practitioners to gain a basic understanding of Bowen theory and learn a new way to think about clinical cases!

Bowen Family Systems Theory 101
Cecilia Guzman, MS

Cecilia Guzman, MS , CFC faculty member and private practitioner, conducts this monthly series of eight, one-hour lectures and discussions, designed to provide the participant with a general overview of each concept of Bowen Family Systems Theory:

  • Differentiation of Self
  • Triangles
  • Nuclear Family Emotional System
  • Family Projection Process
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process
  • Emotional Cutoff
  • Sibling Position
  • Societal Emotional Process


A basic understanding of the eight concepts offers participants the opportunity to begin conceptualizing clinical cases through the lens of BFST. Gaining a new, broader perspective on behavior patterns in families can significantly improve outcomes of the therapeutic process.

Earn 8 CEUs with full-series attendance. Approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits.

For further information, contact  Cecilia Guzman.

Using Bowen theory in your practice? Benefit by using the lens of Bowen theory to present and discuss your clinical cases with a Bowen theory practitioner. Gain a deeper understanding of clinical assessment and treatment options using a systems perspective.

Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW
Clinical Supervision: Online Study Group

Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW, CFC faculty member, provides online clinical supervision to family therapists in small groups ( no more than 4 participants). The group meets online via video conferencing available at . This is a nine-month program.

Each small group will be conducted as a study group where Family Systems Theory is discussed and applied, using  Growing Yourself Up by Jenny Brown. The first 30 minutes of each session is spent discussing the assigned book chapter, followed by two 45-minute clinical case presentations by participants. Each participant in the study group is expected to present cases at 3 meetings.

For more information, contact  Kelly Matthews-Pluta.

Save the Date: Friday, February 21, 2020

CFC's Annual Winter Conference... 

Application of Bowen Family Systems Theory
Twenty-Second Annual Day of Workshops

Robert Noone, Ph.D., Keynote Speaker
Meet Robert Noone via this Family Matters video

First Presbyterian Church of Evanston
1427 Chicago Avenue
(Southwest corner of Chicago Avenue & Lake Street)
Evanston, Illinois

Sponsored by Center for Family Consultation