CFC News
Volume 4  Number 3                                                                 Spring 2020

Leslie Ann Fox

My mother was a wise person, pragmatic, not one to deceive herself or others. When something bad or unpleasant happened to someone she knew, she would say, "I am sorry to hear it. What a shame." But then she would go on to say, "What happens to everyone else, eventually happens to you too, to all of us." When I was young, that last part puzzled me. Now I understand. Mom was born at home, in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Her mother couldn't go to the hospital and the doctor couldn't come to the house. But mother and child survived. Lucky for me.
I also came to understand that Mom's message to me in her adage was that "you too have the resources and strength within you to cope with life's challenges." Now here we are, living through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Mom was right. Our intellectual system knows we are not the first people on earth to experience the spread of an uncontrolled infectious disease, and likely won't be the last. We are slowly getting over the initial shock of losing our freedom to an unseen enemy. We are learning to live with the fear of a real threat to our loved ones and to ourselves. We learned pretty fast the best ways to protect ourselves   stay home, wash our hands, and if you must go out, wear a mask. What struck me was how quickly almost everyone in our community got with the program. That's what human systems do; we adapt to survive.

We work collectively for the greater good of our families and communities. I have witnessed an abundance of generosity, bravery, kindness and compassion for our fellow humans from across society. Individuals and groups are stepping up  from family members, neighbors, and local community organizers, to society's smallest and largest institutions; to all levels of governmental agencies and services, as well as small, large and gargantuan business corporations. At every level of the society, we are creating new and unique ways to stay connected and contribute to the well-being of society. Individually and together, we are working to assure a vibrant future for generations to come.  Adapt. That's what humans do.

And adapting is what CFC is doing for the upcoming Spring Conference! So, get out your computers and sign on....

Upcoming Conference...

The 37th Annual Midwest Symposium

Friday, May 1, 2020

Due to the self-distancing strategy in effect to prevent the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19, CFC is presenting a unique one-day online version of its annual Symposium featuring presentations and panel discussions by Michael Kerr, M.D., Daniel Papero, Ph.D., and Robert Noone, Ph.D.

Drs. Kerr, Papero, and Noone

Schedule and Topics

9:00 am to 10:30 am
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.
Rapid Growth of Natural Systems Thinking in the Biological Sciences

10:45 am to 11:45 am
Daniel V. Papero, Ph.D.
Returning to the Basic Level of Differentiation of Self:
Its Development, Stability, and Potential for Change

11:45 am to 12:15 pm
Panel discussion with the speakers

12:15 pm to 1:00 pm
Lunch Break

1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.
Assessing Basic Level of Differentiation

2:45 pm to 3:30 pm
Robert Noone, Ph.D.
Family, the Brain and Differentiation of Self
*See Dr. Noone's abstract on CFC's The Systems Thinker

3:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Panel discussion with the speakers


6 credit hours will be offered for full attendance.
Approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits. Certificates will be e-mailed to participants following the program upon request.

Registration Deadline : Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fee:  $150 per person; Student rate: $125 (includes CEUs)

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 applications in therapy, consultation and leadership. This training program is designed for professionals seeking to enhance their work as therapists, consultants or leaders; to work on level of differentiation of self; and are interested in learning about 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.

For further information, contact Sydney Reed, MSW.

CFC Faculty Speaking at Home and Around the World...

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW, presented a paper, "The Growth Dynamic," at the Bowen Center's Spring Conference, 
Creating a Climate for Change, in Washington, DC, April 3-4, 2020

This conference also was moved from an onsite venue to online. Stephanie summarizes her presentation and others from the conference:

"Creating a Climate for Change"
This title was the inspiration and call to action for the Spring Conference of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family on April 3-4. With an audience of over ninety people, "zooming" in across five time zones, this conference offered an exchange of thinking on the human relationship with Earth, and the evolutionary, ecological, and economic forces that have converged to create our present environmental crises.

Dr. Daniel Papero set the stage for the meeting with a comprehensive look at Bowen theory as a framework for understanding and responding to the challenges humans face with climate change, and now the pandemic. Under the title "Wrestling with Complex Systems: Natural Systems Thinking about Human Participation in Climate Change," Dr. Papero integrated concepts from science, evolution, history, and neuroscience for understanding how families and organizations function under duress, and looked at the guidance that Bowen theory offers for making essential and responsible change.

Dr. John M. Gowdy, Professor of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was the guest scientist for this meeting. His two presentations were titled: "The Evolution and Impact of Human Ultrasociality with Climate Changes and Coronavirus as Examples" and "Alternative Futures: Collapse or Change." Dr. Gowdy took us through thousands of years of human evolution, beginning with a portrayal of the hunter-gathers as communities that took what they needed from nature in a sustainable way, then to the age of agriculture which "changed everything" as the ability to produce surpluses led to the emergence of hierarchical states, and finally to the "age of acceleration" with the discovery of fossil fuels two hundred years ago and the skyrocketing growth in population and markets that has followed. Dr. Gowdy offered a compelling way of understanding the human dilemma, not as a problem with human nature itself, but as a result of the expansionist economic "superorganism" that has brought out the more aggressive and competitive side of human nature. He has created a comprehensive, multi-dimensional set of principles and policies, a "minimum bioeconomic program" to guide us to responsible change on the individual, community and institutional levels.

In addition to Dr. Papero and Dr. Gowdy, ten other speakers gave brief presentations addressing various aspects of the impacts that climate change is bringing, and will continue to bring, to all of life on Earth. The conference itself was an example of how quickly we are able to adapt to change. With the COVID-19 requirements for social distancing, the original in-person plan was quickly and effectively changed to an online venue; the result was a meeting with less socializing, more focused concentration on important ideas, and a high-level discussion drawing on the research and expertise of the audience members as well as the presenters.

Tapes from the Spring Conference of Creating a Climate for Change will be available for purchase online in the near future from the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, DC. For people who attended the conference, the tapes will be $75 and for others they will be $150.

Register now for CFC Online Video Courses starting in 2020

Bowen Family Systems Theory 101: Next course starts July 2, 2020
Cecilia Guzman, MS

Busy practitioners gain a basic understanding of Bowen theory and learn a new way to think about clinical cases! Learn from the comfort of your office.

Cecilia Guzman, MS , CFC faculty member and private practitioner, conducts this 8-week series of one-hour lectures and discussion via The course is designed to provide the participant with a general overview of each of the eight concepts of Bowen Family Systems Theory A basic understanding of these eight concepts leads participants 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. Weekly sessions meet Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on

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 from a Clinical Supervision study group. Using the lens of Bowen theory to present and discuss your clinical cases with a CFC faculty member and Bowen theory practitioner helps to continuously hone your approach to therapy using Bowen theory and systems thinking.

Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW
Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW , CFC faculty member and private practitioner, provides online clinical supervision to family therapists in small groups. The group meets monthly via video conferencing available at . This is a nine-month program. Participants may join any time during the year depending on availability of openings. New groups are formed periodically in response to demand.

At the monthly Study Group meetings, Bowen 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 over a 9-month period.

For further information, contact  Kelly Matthews-Pluta regarding new openings in the program.

Coming July 24th, 2020...

CFC Summer Conference  ─  Online
"Unresolved Emotional Attachment"
Presenter ─ Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MA, CNS

Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MA, CNS, is a nurse clinical-specialist, and has had a private practice since 1975. She was on the faculty of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family from 1978 to 2012. She is a founding board member of the Bowen Theory Academy where she coordinates the Family History Database Project, which collects multiple multi-generational family histories to study basic concepts in Bowen theory.

Coming from Around the Bowen Network -- Save the Dates

Hosted by The Murray Bowen Archives Project, "Looking Ahead by Looking Back: 40 Years of Bowen Theory Applied to Work Systems" September 18th, 2020  ─  A Fundraising Webinar presented by Kathy Wiseman of Navigating Systems

The Murray Bowen Archives Project is pleased to present "Looking Ahead by Looking Back," a webinar that chronicles the history of applying Bowen theory to workplace and organizational systems. For this webinar, Kathy Wiseman and the Murray Bowen heirs are generously making available an archival treasure: a never-heard-before interview conducted with Dr. Bowen regarding the application of Bowen theory to organizational life. For more information....

The Vermont Center for Family Studies: Meditation and Family Health, October 8-9, 2020

Erik Thompson, director of VCFS, announces: "The VCFS 3rd annual Meditation and Family Leadership conference will take place on October 8-9 in Burlington, Vermont. It will feature Dr. Fred Travis, a neuroscientist from Maharishi International University, who studies consciousness and higher stages of human development, and Dr. Rael Cahn, of USC's Center for Mindfulness Science, along with Bowen scholars (TBD), in an interdisciplinary exchange."  For more information...

Third International Conference on Bowen Theory in Lapland, Sweden, postponed to June 14-16, 2021

Four CFC faculty to  present papers at the Third International Conference on Bowen Theory ─ Reset!

We were all ready to go this year, travel plans made, but bags not yet packed, when we were notified that the coronavirus has made an unwanted appearance in Sweden as well...I guess that is why they call it a is everywhere. In any case, we are planning to go next year...

CFC faculty Robert Noone, PhD, John Bell, MDiv, Leslie Ann Fox, MA, and Patty Sheridan, MBA, RHIA, FAHIMA, will be trekking over to Lapland, Sweden, June 14 to 16, 2021, to speak at the conference, Managing Relations in a Changing World ─ Bowen Theory in Organizations, Families and Communities. We hope you will join us in Sweden next year. For more information...