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Bowenian Family Therapy and the Social Work Exam

bowen book Murray Bowen is credited by some with generating a wholly new way of thinking about human behavior. That new way: Family Systems Theory, put into action as Bowenian Famliy Therapy. The web is chock full of simple descriptions of what it is and how it works, so we'll save typing time--and your time--and get right to the links.

What it is (via The Bowen Center):

Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit.

The theory's eight interlocking concepts (via Wikipedia):

  • Differentiation of Self (the most important concept)
  • Nuclear Family Emotional System
  • Triangles
  • Family Projection Process
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process
  • Emotional Cutoff
  • Sibling Position
  • Societal Emotional Process

As usual, passing the social work exam usually requires just being able to identify concepts rather than actually being able to explain them. (That makes some long for the old days of oral exams--and makes others wildly grateful that the old days of oral exams has past). You can, for better or worse, often reduce social work exam knowledge into a cheer. "I say differentiation, you say Bowen!" "I say triangles, you say Bowen!" "I say multigenerational transmission process, you say Bowen!" That last one's kind of a mouthful, but see if you don't remember this post if/when you encounter a Bowenian Family Therapy question on the exam!

Find plenty more about Bowen's theory and therapy at these places:

Good luck on the exam!

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