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Chapter Five Murray Bowen’s Systems Therapy. Bowen’s early work Studied schizophrenic families Discovered that the “anxious attachment” or fused relationships.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Five Murray Bowen’s Systems Therapy. Bowen’s early work Studied schizophrenic families Discovered that the “anxious attachment” or fused relationships."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Five Murray Bowen’s Systems Therapy

2 Bowen’s early work Studied schizophrenic families Discovered that the “anxious attachment” or fused relationships between mothers and children account for most problems. Also observed alternating cycles of closeness and distance: separation anxiety incorporation anxiety

3 Bowen’s Theory Most elaborate of any of the early founders Six Interlocking Concepts originally differentiation of self triangles nuclear family emotional process family projection process multigenerational transmission process sibling position

4 Later additions Emotional cutoff Societal emotional process

5 The Centerpiece: Differentiation of self Differentiation is...the capacity to think and reflect before responding; implies an interior self that is separate from others, and able to relate to them with self restraint and balance. Similar to ego strength. Undifferentiated people are emotionally fused with others; reactive and anxious We are less autonomous, or free, than we think. We are more reactive and dependent than we assume.

6 Triangles and Triangulation There’s a difference between triangles and triangulation. A triangle is a relationship structure Trangulation refers to relationship process Anxiety gives rise to barriers between people: it’s hard to talk about things A third person provides an outlet and a reduction of anxiety, but no solution triangles are stable freezes conflict in place

7 Nuclear Family Emotional Process The emotional forces that operate over the years in repeated patterns to create an excess of fusion Emotional reactivity (lack of differentiation) leads to fusion in the family This leads to emotional cutoff from the family of origin, which in turn leads to fusion in marriage.

8 Family Projection Process The way that parents transmit their lack of differentiation onto their children Emotional fusion in a marriage leads to conflict, emotional distance, and “tilt” in which one overfunctions and the other underfunctions. The overfunctioning parent tends to become over- involved with one child, who achieves the least differentiation, and develops problems.

9 Multigenerational Transmission The child most involved in the family’s fusion moves toward a lower level of differentation. The child least involved achieves a higher degree of differentiation. As they mature, the children will become attracted to partners with an equivalent degree of differentiation.

10 Multigenerational Transmission, continued The new couple will establish a family in which a great deal of anxiety will be present. The mechanisms for “binding” it will be even more active in this generation than the previous one.

11 There is no escape Rebellion and compliance are two sides of the same coin. Simply leaving one’s family does little to foster differentiation. Differentiation comes about through adult-to-adult relationships with each family member. It’s important to go back and to do the work you need to do to establish yourself as an adult in your family of origin.

12 Sibling Position Children develop personality characteristics based on their position first borns children tend to be conservative, aligned with power later borns tend to side with the underdog.

13 Emotional Cutoff The greater the fusion, the more likely that emotional cutoff between parents and children will occur. We tend to mistake cutoff as maturity

14 Societal Emotional Process crime rate natural disaster, war sexismclass ethnic prejudice

15 Normal Family Development low anxiety direct communication differentiation healthy contact with families of origin resolution of unfinished business: Seminal confrontation

16 Family Life Cycle: Developmental Stressors leaving home marriage families with young children adolescence

17 Family Life Cycle: Developmental Stressors launching of children midlife crisis later life

18 Important concept Basic level of differentiation resides within the individual Functional level of differentiation depends on the quality of current relationships Your relationship can pull you down or up

19 Goals of therapy Learn about yourself Assume responsibility Stop blaming Learn to assess the structure and process of relationships De-triangulation

20 Marital therapy improve self focus; I-position; to see one’s role in relationship problems decrease emotional reactivity; therapist strives to minimize emotionality in therapy through neutrality and calmness modify dysfunctional patterns; process questions aid awareness of what is going wrong and what needs to change therapeutic triangle is essential; both partners are necessary

21 Therapist’s Goals to remain neutral or “detriangled” to focus on process (patterns of emotional reactivity) and structure (network of triangles) rather than content not to settle disputes, but to get clients to do so model the I-position for the clients

22 Therapy with one person differentiation is the focus cut-off indicated by denial of the importance of the family development of one-to-one relationships with each family member

23 The client’s personal path to change gathering information about the family establishing relationships with as many family members as possible identifying triangles in which you participate detriangulating yourself

24 Interventions that Bowenians use genograms process descriptions and process questions detriangulatingcoaching asking clients to take “I positions” modeling I-position as the therapist displacement stories

25 Examples of process questions “What is it that you do that upsets her the most?” “What do you think you do that creates distance between you and him?” “What do you do when she starts to cry?” “Who is the one that pursues in your relationship? Creates distance?”

26 Conditions for change Whole family not necessary Change takes place through the agency of individuals who are willing to change their individual, one-to-one relationships with the rest of the family “Meet people where they are at, stay in the present, and respond appropriately”

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