CFC New s
Volume 3  Number 2                                                                    Winter 2019

Alumni reflect on their experience in the CFC Post-graduate Training Program

This fall, three of CFC's alumni participated in a three-part series of blogs on The Systems Thinker. Jennifer Howe, LCSW, Robyn Shultz, DSW, and Beth Lindley, LCSW reflected on why they decided to enroll in the CFC post graduate training and how the experience impacted their personal and professional lives. Jennifer began " I thought it would be a relatively straight-forward task  to describe the impact the training program has had on my life and my clinical practice, but that was foolish, considering Bowen theory requires most of us, and certainly me, to rethink much of what I had learned in my family and professional training."

Robyn Shultz took the CFC post-graduate program as part of her doctoral work in clinical social work. She noted " Bowen Theory resonated with me immediately.  Having never really studied it before, I had limited insight into how I could apply its concepts to my clients' lives and the concerns they presented in therapy.  As I learned more and more about the theory, I began to understand it in a new way.  I realized quickly that there was no way a multi-theorist textbook could ever teach me fully about Bowen Theory."

Beth Lindley, LCSW, began the program intrigued with the application of Bowen theory in all aspects of her life. " Seeing both a personal application and another, which had direct relevance to managing self in a professional system, attracted me to learning more about the theory. After participating in a family of origin group, I learned about the Post-Graduate Training Program and I recognized how further study of concepts and application of the theory would help me as I moved forward in my family work as well as my professional evolution.

These blogs illustrate how the experience of the post-graduate training program was unique for each of these individuals, but also the broad applicability to both their professional and personal lives. The profound impact the program had for each of these alumni shows the intrinsic value of a commitment to life-long learning, to periodically going back to reassess how we each approach our work, our families, and the many relationship systems that are important in our lives.

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

Starting January 2019, applications are being accepted 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. For more information...

Coming February 22, 2019...

Clinical Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory:
21 st Annual Day of Workshops

K ey note presentation by  Sydne y Reed, MSW

"Family Reaction to Death and the Emotional Shock Wave"

"Direct thinking about death, or indirect thinking about staying alive and avoiding death, occupies more of man's time than any other subject." - Murray Bowen

Bowen recognized that all families deal with death and often chronic illness. How they managed the emotional intensity that accompanies these events determines the nature of the experience and the outcome for the family. The ability of at least one person in the family to be "present and accounted for" at times of high anxiety in the family contributes to the entire family functioning at a better level. The cornerstone concept of Bowen theory, differentiation of self, provides a guide for the effort of managing one's own anxiety and reactivity while staying in contact with other family members.
Bowen described the "emotional shock wave" that can occur at the time of death in which the heightened anxiety moves between relationships and across generations resulting in symptoms in certain family members, even those at a geographical distance. Sydney Reed will illustrate the emotional shock wave that occurred in her family. She will demonstrate the usefulness to clinicians of knowledge of the emotional shock wave and the use of the family diagram to track emotional process and symptom development. The significance of these clinical practices was the motivation for Reed to co-edit the book,  Death and Chronic Illness in the Family . Copies of the book will be available at a conference rate.

Sydney Reed, MSW, is a co-founder of the Center for Family Consultation and co-ordinates the Post-Graduate Training Program. For the last 45 years she has maintained a private family psychotherapy practice in Evanston, IL.

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 Family, will be presenting to The Center for Family Systems in Kansas City on March 15th, 2019, on the topic of "Differentiation of Self, Family, and the Brain." He will also be a guest lecturer for the Clinical Series at the Western Pennsylvania Family Center in Pittsburgh on March 30th, 2019.

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 is conducting an onsite Clergy Goal Setting Retreat at the New Morning Retreat Center on January 15, 2019, so if you are looking to get away to set goals for 2019, this is a unique opportunity to think about your goals during discussions based on Bowen theory facilitated by John Bell. For more information...

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW
On February 25, 2019, John will be presenting on "Bowen Theory, Prophetic Ministry, and Social Justice" at the Bowen Center's Faith Leadership Seminar.

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW, CFC faculty member, will have an article in the next issue of  Family Systems Journal. "The Social Hierarchy: Biology, History, and Emotional Process" will appear in the journal in early 2019.

CFC Online programs beginning in 2019...

Online Supervision Study Group  begins in January.

Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW
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 online monthly via video conferencing available at

This is a six month program from January 2019 through June 2019. Classes will meet on Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Central Time on 1/8, 2/5, 3/5, 4/9, 5/7, and 6/4. This year 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. Click here for more program and registration information.

Bowen Theory 101 :  Registration deadline is  JANUARY 3, 2019 .
Cecilia Guzman, MS

Classes will be held on Thursdays at 10:00 am starting on January 17, 2019 and run 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...

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

CFC Spring Conference, May 3-4, 2019:  "Midwest Symposium on Family Systems Theory and Therapy" 

The Spring Conference will feature a keynote presentation each morning and papers presented by Bowen theory scholars from around the country in the afternoons. Michael E. Kerr, MD, Director of the  Bowen Theory Academy , Islesboro, ME, and Emeritus Director of the Georgetown Family Center, Washington DC, and  Tony W. Buchanan , Ph.D., Director of Neuroscience Program at St. Louis University, will be our keynote presenters. Drs. Kerr and Buchanan will also engage with the other speakers during panel discussions throughout the two-day symposium.

Michael E. Kerr, MD
Dr. Kerr is a family psychiatrist. He trained under and worked with Murray Bowen for more than twenty years and succeeded Dr. Bowen as Director of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family (originally the Georgetown University Family Center) upon his death in 1990. His research interests include cancer and family emotional process, the development of a unidisease concept, the relationship between human emotional process and emotional process in other species, and the process of differentiation of self. He is the author of Family Evaluation (1988) and,  Bowen Theory's Secrets: Revealing the Hidden Life of Families to be released February 5, 2019.

Tony W. Buchanan, PhD

Dr. Buchanan wrote In Social Neuroscience (2012), "Physiological resonance between individuals is considered fundamental to the biological capacity for empathy. Physiological stress is particularly important to examine since it commonly occurs chronically, with known negative effects on health.  (This study)... indicates that we can indeed catch another's physiological stress, suggesting specific health risk for those in the social network of stressed individuals." Another of his research interests is the positive effects of stre ss.

In addition to the keynote addresses, twenty-minute presentations will be scheduled each day followed by a panel discussion. This rich exchange of ideas by Bowen scholars from around the country, our keynote speakers and the audience provides 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.

CFC Summer Conference, July 19, 2019: " Family of Origin Work:  An Avenue to Greater Maturity."

Murray Bowen saw the "family of origin," one's parental family, as the emotional arena that offered an unmatched opportunity to gain maturity as an adult.  He paved the way in his own family with an ongoing effort to relate to the family as a differentiated self, resulting in improved functioning and enjoyment of the family. As he wrote about this process, his students and others took guidance from his example to make the same kind of effort in their own families.  

Stephanie Ferrera, MSW , will lead off the Summer Conference with an overview of "family of origin work."  Other CFC faculty members will follow with presentations on their own experience with this important concept, both their personal and their clinical experience.  Victoria Harrison's guidebook, "The Family Diagram and Family Research" will be available as a resource. 

The Summer Conference will be held at the Carlton Hotel in Oak Park, Illinois.