CFC New s
Volume 3  Number 3                                                                    Spring 2019

Recent posts in the CFC blog, The Systems Thinker
cover a range of timely topics about thinking systems during times of heightened stress, from violence in society to death and chronic illness in the family

CFC faculty member John Bell, M.Div., offered two articles in the wake of the workplace shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, just 6 short blocks from John's home and church. He had written Violence in Society following the shooting on Valentine's Day in 2018 at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, raising interesting questions for community leaders to consider as they seek to understand and find ways to fulfill their responsibilities in bringing about change. John wrote Thinking Systems after a Mass Shooting
following the shooting in his own community just one year and one day after the events at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Once again he uses concepts from family systems thinking to formulate useful questions for thought and discussion about violence in the context of the family and the community.

Sydney Reed, MSW, CFC co-founder, faculty member, and co-editor of the recently published book Death and Chronic Illness in the Family , was the keynote speaker at CFC's winter conference on Clinical Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory, on February 22, 2019. Following the question and answer period, a question about one of Dr. Bowen's suggestions to her about an upcoming visit home stimulated a lot of discussion among participants. She wrote a piece for The Systems Thinker following the conference to share her thinking on How I Understand Suggestions Dr. Bowen Gave Me . For more information about Sydney's experiences and the content of her book, see An Interview with the Co-editors of Death and Chronic Illness in the Family posted in
The Systems Thinker .

Applications being accepted now for the CFC Post-Graduate Training Program...

Applications are being accepted now for the next session of the training program beginning September, 2019. Given the busy schedules of our training program participants, we understand the need to plan in advance, thus, new applications will be reviewed upon submission and applicants will be notified regarding admission within a few weeks. 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.

One example of the impact the training program is illustrated through this note from a prior attendee:

"Thanks to my post-graduate program studies at the Center for Family Consultation, I increasingly take the long-range, "big picture" approach to understanding myself as a participant in family emotional process.  Trained as a clinical psychologist, I had focused my clinical and research endeavors on how unique identity emerges in the family, based on the "content" of one's self-definition, i.e., discerning the "who" and "what" of someone's identity, as opposed to understanding the self in a relational, systems context.

I appreciate that faculty teach and demonstrate how differentiation of self is not about how one defines oneself per se, but about how one operates in a network of family relationships and is able to still be a self, act according to one's principles, and maintain emotional objectivity. It's not that easy, and not always possible, but it does provide a margin of "freedom" from the ebbs and flows of family emotional process."

Coming May 3-4, 2019...
The Family Emotional System:
It's Influence on Behavior, Relationships, and Symptom Development

Keynote Speaker - Friday, May 3rd
Michael E. Kerr, MD

Director, The Bowen Theory Academy, Isleboro, ME

"TOFT (Tissue Organization Field Theory):
Relevance to Cancer and to Bowen Theory"

Tissue Organization Field Theory (TOFT) has emerged from mainstream oncology research to challenge the long accepted Somatic Mutation Theory (SMT) as an understanding of how cancers develop and progress. TOFT and SMT are incompatible views in that the former is organicism and the later is reductionism. In TOFT, carcinogenesis is a problem of tissue organization. The TOFT way of thinking is very similar to Bowen family systems theory in that the cause of aberrant cell behavior does not reside within the confines of the cancer cell but the explanation resides at the tissue level of biological organization. Bowen Theory holds that aberrant behavior manifested by one family member is not caused by something within the confines of the individual, but reflects a larger family system disturbance. One presentation will be about a TOFT explanation of carcinogenesis. The other presentation will explain how the ebb and flow of chronic anxiety in the family and relationship patterns for adapting to the anxiety affect the exacerbation and remission of the symptoms of a chronic clinical condition, in this case schizophrenia.

Keynote Speaker - Saturday, May 4th  
Tony W. Buchanan, PhD

Professor of Psychology & Director of Neuroscience Program, Saint Louis University

Part One: "The Upside of Stress: How Stress Affects the Way We Learn, Remember, and Connect with Others"

Part Two: "Stress and Social Connection: The Co-regulation of Stress in Couples"

"Stress is rightly described as a negative force in many people's lives, often leading to fractured families and poor health. This description, however, misses the positive impact that stress may have on aspects of our cognitive and social lives. My research focuses on the varied effects of stress, both for good and for ill. In my first presentation, I will review the history of stress research, followed by presentation of my own work on the impact of stress on learning and memory. In my second presentation I will present findings on how stress affects the social connections between us and include my research on the co-regulation of stress in couples."

In addition to the two morning keynote addresses described above, the afternoon sessions will feature presentations by Bowen Theory experts from around the country, followed by panel discussions with the keynote speakers. This rich exchange of ideas by our Bowen Theory scholars, keynote speakers and the audience offers the opportunity for a stimulating and rewarding learning experience.

The program will be held at the Lakeview Center in lovely Gillson Park overlooking Lake Michigan in Wilmette, IL. For more information and to register...

CFC Faculty out and about...

Bob Noone, PhD
Bob Noone, Ph.D., CFC faculty member and editor of the Family Systems Journal published by the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, will be presenting at three conferences around the country this spring:
  • on March 30th a full day presentation at the Western Pennsylvania Family Center in Pittsburgh on the topic of "Family and the Development of Adaptive Capacity"
  • on April 11th at the Professional Lecture Series at the Bowen Center in Washington, DC on "Family, the Brain, and the Intellectual System"
  • on May 3rd at the CFC MW Symposium in Wilmette, IL on "Family and Individual Differentiation"

John Bell, MDiv
John Bell, M.Div., a member of the CFC faculty, is author of the weekly blog Thinking Congregations and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church where he has served for 20+ years. Reverend Bell will be part of a panel discussion with other clergy at the Spring Conference, Exploring A Systems View of Leadership at the Bowen Center in Washington, DC on April 12 and 13, 2019.

CFC faculty on Videos in the Murray Bowen Archives...

Check out the Oral History Interviews on the Murray Bowen Archives project. "The goal of the Oral History Interviews, led by Andrea Schara, is to collect information on how Dr. Bowen influenced and interacted with others, ways in which he explicated his theoretical ideas in everyday life, and ways in which people extended theoretical research into their own families and lives." Interviews with CFC faculty members Stephanie Ferrera, Bob Noone, and Sydney Reed are accessible on the website.

Save-the-Dates for CFC conferences in 2019...

CFC Summer Conference
July 19, 2019
Carleton Hotel, Oak Park

  Family-of-origin work: Taking a new look at one's own family  through the lens of Bowen theory

The study of one's family of origin and ancestry can be fascinating by itself. Family research generally leads to a wider and more objective view of the family, which in turn can lead to better understanding and appreciation of one's family.

Bowen Theory takes the study of families to a deeper level. Viewing the family as an emotional system, with its triangles, reciprocal functioning, relationship patterns that repeat over generations, and its shifting levels of anxiety, reveals what Michael Kerr calls "The Hidden Life of Families." Seeing the family in this different way leads to a new way of thinking about the its best and at its worst. Most importantly, it leads, gradually, to seeing oneself as part of the system. It opens up ideas and options for changing one's own part. Kerr states: "The effort boils down to using the lens of theory to think differently about family problems and acting based on the new way of thinking." This is the process of differentiation of self, of gaining personal maturity and greater responsibility for self. The gains in maturity that one achieves in one's family of origin carry over into all other relationships.

Conference presenters: Stephanie Ferrera, MSW; Robert Noone, Ph.D., and other CFC faculty members.

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW, and Robert Noone, PhD

Ethics and Culture Seminars
September 27, 2019
Center for Family Consultation
820 Davis Street, Suite 504
Evanston, IL

Mark your calendars now for this full-day, two-part continuing education opportunity. The lens of Bowen Theory will be applied to ethics in clinical practice and to the issue of culture and ethnicity. Sessions will be led by CFC faculty

Ethics in Clinical Practice: The concept of differentiation of self in Bowen Theory is a trustworthy guide for defining principles and making decisions entailed in the ethical practice of psychotherapy. Ethical issues -- confidentiality, responsible sharing of information, appropriate use of hospitalization and medication, and others -- are understood in the context of the family emotional system.

Culture and Ethnicity: What do you need to know to be a culturally competent clinician? Bowen Theory understands the variation in human cultures as the diverse ways that basic biologically-rooted patterns are expressed in human families and societies.

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs)
3 CEUs per session attended will be awarded. Approved for clergy, social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits.

Date and Times
Friday, September 27, 2019
9 am to noon: Ethics in Clinical Practice
1 pm to 4 pm: Culture and Ethnicity

Registration expected to begin in May.

For further information about the conference, please contact John Bell.

CFC Online programs beginning in 2019...

Online Supervision Study Group:
Registration deadline is August 27, 2019

Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW
Starting September 10, 2019, CFC faculty member Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW will provide online clinical supervision to family therapists in small groups (no more than 4 participants). The group will meet monthly, September through May, via video conferencing available at Z, Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Central Time. The final dates will be determined this summer. Each small group will be conducted as a Bowen Theory study group where family systems theory is discussed and applied, using Growing Yourself Up by Jenny Brown. The first 30 minutes of each session will be 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.

Continuing Education Credits: 1 CEU will be granted per hour completed during the nine-month program.

For more information contact Kelly Matthews-Pluta.

Bowen Theory 101: Registration deadline is September 5, 2019  
Cecilia Guzman, MS

Classes will be held on Thursdays at 10:00 am starting September 19th for 8 consecutive weeks. CFC faculty member Cecilia Guzman, MS conducts this series of eight, one-hour lectures and discussions online using the free downloadable teleconferencing technology The program is designed to provide participants with a general overview of each concept of Bowen Family Systems Theory. 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. Participants are encouraged to read Extraordinary Relationships by Roberta Gilbert. Other references will be recommended during the course.

Continuing Education Credits:  Earn 8 CEUs with full-series attendance. This program is approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits. For more information...