|Volume 5 Number 2 Winter 2021|
The Therapists' Well-Being:
A Family Systems Perspective on Practicing in 2020 during COVID-19 Pandemic, and Political and Social Unrest
Lisa Moss, MSW
In 2020, people found themselves thrust into the realities of dealing with a pandemic, job loss, grief, school closures and remote learning, working from home, as well as social and political unrest. Therapists quickly had a glimpse into the havoc being wreaked on peoples' lives as they faced stress, uncertainty and risk of mortality. The topic of every session shifted abruptly. Suddenly the nation was in the midst of a mental health crisis. Crisis management in the early days morphed into chronic stress and anxiety. The advice to "talk to a therapist" led to an exponential increase in demand for therapy services. What about the therapist? Suddenly, the challenges clients were confronting mirrored the therapist's own challenges.
The clinical applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory offer an opportunity to identify the intersections of the personal and professional self during a time of heightened anxiety. The theory is best learned as a lived experience. The challenge of systems thinking and practicing in a time of heightened anxiety provides an opportunity to expand learning and increase functional differentiation of self. The concepts of differentiation of self and societal emotional process emerged as useful guiding constructs for getting perspective, reducing anxiety and improving functional self.
At the upcoming conference on Clinical Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory this coming February, Lisa will further discuss this topic, specifically, the practices of identifying guiding principles, mindfulness and efforts to get a systems perspective will be explored using case examples. Differentiation as an ethic for self-care will be defined and discussed. (Information below.)
Clinical Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory ̶ Online
Friday, February 26, 2021
9:00 am to 4:00 pm CST
9:00 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. CST
Keynote Speaker ̶ Lisa Moss, LCSW
"The Therapists' Well-Being: A Family Systems Perspective on Practicing in 2020 during COVID-19 Pandemic, and Political and Social Unrest"
Description (See story above)
Lisa Moss, LCSW. Lisa has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kansas and received a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University, Chicago in 1993. Lisa has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1995, practicing in a variety of settings including a hospital, community-based agency and private agency. In 2007, she completed the two-year post-graduate training program in Bowen Family systems theory at the Center for Family Consultation in Evanston. In 2013, Lisa joined the CFC faculty.
10:30 a.m. to Noon
Video and Discussion, "An Overview of Bowen Family Systems Theory." Robert Noone, PhD will lead a discussion following the videotape.
Noon Lunch Break
1:00 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. CST
Workshop participants can choose to attend one of four workshops presented by Sydney Reed, MSW, Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW, Leslie Ann Fox, MA, and Jennifer Howe, MSW.
2:40 p.m. Break
2:50 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Workshop participants can choose to attend one of four workshops presented by Robert Noone, PhD, Lisa Friedstein, MSW, Regina Ferrera, MSW, and Eric Weiner, PhD.
4:00 p.m. Adjourn
Continuing Education Credits (CEUs): 6.0 hours approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits.
Registration Fee: $120.00
Student Fee: $75.00
Online Meeting on the Concept of Societal Emotional Process Presented December 10, 2020
CFC presented a new offering in December relevant to the current events in our society, "A Place for Thinking and Conversation". Using Dr. Bowen's concept of societal emotional process to gain a broader perspective on one of today's most significant challenges, widespread and long-standing racism. In the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, the author examined the most extreme examples of hierarchical structures in caste systems of India, Nazi Germany, and the United States.
The pandemic, and the political and social turmoil experienced throughout the year, had generated thoughtful conversations among the CFC faculty. A new Societal Process Committee emerged from those informal conversations comprised of Stephanie Ferrera, Sydney Reed, John Bell, and Cecilia Guzman. They planned and presented A Place for Thinking and Conversation to examine the Wilkerson book through the lens of Bowen theory. Seventy-seven interested attendees gathered on a Thursday evening to listen to the four CFC faculty members, each reporting their own observations and recent thinking on this important topic. The presenters were using their systems perspective to focus on facts, and listen to others, giving them an opportunity to express their thinking. The goal to think responsibly, seeking to distinguish provable facts from apocryphal statements is an important effort to make if we are determined to move toward a more responsible way of functioning across institutions and daily life in America.
Salute to CFC Technology heroes who kept programs on track during pandemic of 2020!
A big thank you goes out to faculty members John Bell, Patty Sheridan, Kelly Matthews-Pluta, and Lisa Moss, and CFC alumni volunteers, Lisa Friedstein and Jennifer Howe, who jumped in fearlessly to learn how to use the teleconferencing technology, Zoom. With careful planning, and some trial and error, they worked out processes, and managed the technical support for the year's programs to let CFC continue to meet the learning needs of our audiences. This year's pandemic presented organizations across the country with unprecedented risks, but also opportunities for creativity and innovation as everyone responded to a real "life and death" threat.
Like most people CFC sought to survive and thrive though a disruptive change in how we live, work, go to school and socialize. In our local communities, online teleconferencing via Zoom and other platforms have been a life line for people wanting to learn Bowen theory at a deeper level this past year. Like many organizations, back in March, CFC scrambled to learn the mechanics of the technology. These operational changes enabled us to continue our regular programs throughout the year, in a convenient stay-at-home social distancing way. We thank all of our participants in 2020 for your continued participation and patience as we learned together.
Bowen Theory Resources from around the Network ̶ CFC faculty recommends...
Murray Bowen Archives Project
The Murray Bowen Archives Project
was established in 2008 and ensures preservation of the vast array of materials that accompanied Dr. Bowen's search for a scientific basis for human behavior reflecting his thinking and odyssey toward a new theory of human behavior. The originals are preserved and catalogued at the National Library of Medicine (NLM). They provide researchers and students of human behavior a unique view into how Bowen discovered the theory. The Murray Bowen Archives website includes papers, manuscripts, book chapters, and video tapes of his clinical work with families and of his teaching efforts at conferences. Much of Bowen's work and thinking was recorded in the scores of letters he wrote to family, friends, professional colleagues, patients and their families. One especially fascinating part of the website is The Oral History Project
. There are over 50 interviews with professionals who had relationships with Dr. Bowen discussing how he impacted their lives. The oral histories, which are available on the site as written transcripts or videos, add to the body of work revealing how Dr. Bowen, the researcher, continued developing and affirming the theory as it emerged in relationships with patients, other mental health practitioners, and colleagues from the wider scientific community. Above all, they highlight his consistent use of the "I" position.
Family Systems: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences
Family Systems: A Journal of Natural Systems Thinking in Psychiatry and the Sciences
, editor, Robert Noone, PhD, is an interdisciplinary journal, published since 1994, by the Georgetown Family Center. The aim of the journal is to advance the understanding of human emotional functioning and behavior based on Bowen theory. Reflecting the assumption of Bowen theory that the human family is governed by the same natural forces that govern all life, the journal publishes articles that contribute to a better understanding of any living system.
In the most recent edition of the Journal, published Fall of 2020, you don't want to miss a timely report on "The Current State of Student Mental Health in Schools: The Need for Expanded Thinking" by Robin S. Schultz, DSW. The author, emphasizes in a Brief Report that "Educators are beginning to see that surface-level social/emotional learning curriculums are not adequate for providing children the insight needed to become the principled thinkers we hope they will become." She notes that "Both Covid-19 and an increasing focus on social justice are pushing schools to move beyond canned social/emotional curriculums and tiered intervention programs toward deeper learning, which invites cognitive engagement, personal reflection, and self/other consideration". Dr. Schultz makes a compelling case that educators must shift from the traditional individual focused cause and effect thinking to systems thinking, and from a focus on compromised functioning to a focus on resilient functioning when considering student problems. This brief report is based on a research project conducted by Dr. Schultz to be published at a later date. "The study examined relationships between adult interaction patterns and student social/emotional functioning in schools."
Robin Schultz is a licensed school social worker who is also in private practice at New Legends Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, LLC in Geneva, Illinois. She is a graduate of the Post-Graduate Training program in Bowen Theory at the Center for Family Consultation in Evanston, Illinois.
Family Systems Forum
Family Systems Forum
is published by Center for the Study of Natural Systems
and the Family (CNSF). It is a quarterly publication of CSNSF that includes articles relevant to Bowen Theory, the study of natural systems and the family, book reviews, interviews with leaders in the field, synopses of conference speakers' presentations, and information about events, programs and conferences. Published four times a year since the late 1990's, there is a rich archive of back issues that are also available for sale via the website.
Ready for a Winter break? CFC Faculty recommends movies and books to keep you thinking systems while you are relaxing...
Winter break is a great time for watching movies and thinking family systems theory. Kelly Matthews-Pluta, MSW is recommending two movies this winter: The first, "The Wife" starring Glenn Close, is an excellent study in long marriages and the complications of relationships. Brilliant acting. (available on several streaming services)
The second film is "Uncle Frank" about a coming-of-age young woman in the late 80's and her paternal uncle. He is a gay professor, but not out to his small-town family. It is a well-crafted tale rich in family dynamics. (available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
Kelly also recommends her favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for its insights about neutrality in the face of racism and hatred. Available on Amazon.
Back by Popular Demand in 2021...
Bowen Family Systems Theory 101
Begins February 11, 2021
Meets on Zoom for 8 consecutive weeks from 10 to 11 AM CDT
Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) is a comprehensive theory of the family based on Dr. Murray Bowen's view of the human as part of nature and the family as a natural system. Dr. Bowen developed a framework for describing the emotional process and identifying automatic patterns of behavior among family members.
This weekly series of eight, one-hour lectures
and discussions is conducted online using the free downloadable teleconferencing technology Zoom.us
. The program is designed to provide participants with a general overview of each concept of Bowen Family Systems Theory.
"I am so thankful I decided to enroll in the Bowen 101 series with Cecilia Guzman. Her presentations of Bowen's concepts using research and real-life examples, mostly of her own family stories, were thorough and thought provoking. You will have the opportunity to learn about this theory from someone who has not only studied it herself, but is living it. Whether you are curious about Bowen theory or have had years of exposure to it, you will benefit from taking this class."
- Caitlin Baldauff, MA, LPC, SAS
Earn up to 8 CEUs with full-series attendance! The program is approved for social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and professional counselor education credits. To register
for the program, or for further information
, contact Cecilia Guzman
Bowen Theory and Meditation
begins February 8, 2021
Meets on Zoom the second Monday of February, March, April, May, June, September, October and November
The study group on Bowen Theory and Meditation is intended for individuals who already have knowledge of Bowen Theory, meditation or mindfulness, and seek to further their independent studies of these topics. Each member of the study group is on a self-directed learning path. The common theme is to understand how Bowen theory, science, and meditation and/or mindfulness practices (eastern and/or western) intersect, i.e., how they are similar, different and/or synergistic. The study group is for people interested in working on such ideas, and who would benefit from presenting their ideas and listening to the ideas of others.
Study Group Mission
To develop scholarly work that explores meditation and mindfulness through the lenses of Bowen theory and evidence-based science. The following are examples of the kind of questions that members are exploring: What is self? What is the relationship between meditation theory and practice and Bowen theory and practice? What does knowledge of meditation add to the exploration of the balance between individuality and togetherness forces? Can meditation contribute to our understanding of higher stages of differentiation of self? Can meditation traditions contribute to the development of Bowen theory? Can Bowen theory contribute to the development of meditation tradition/practices?
2021 Program Coordinators
Coming Spring 2021...May 7th and 8th
on Family Systems Theory and Therapy
Key Note Speakers
MICHAEL E. KERR, M.D
JAMES P. CURLEY, PH.D.
Watch for program details and registration information later this winter!!