Educational Programs Overview

educational_overviewCenter for the Study of Natural Systems and the Family offers Educational Programs in Bowen Theory and The Study of Natural Systems and the Family in Texas as part of its mission to be a resource for addressing problems facing families, organizations, and society in realistic and effective ways.

The programs are designed to

  • Introduce family members and professionals in various fields to applications of Bowen theory
  • Provide next steps for those who want to build upon an initial interest
  • Support ongoing study and training

These educational programs

  • Support efforts to understand factors identified in Bowen theory to impact health and quality of life in families and society,
  • Integrate knowledge from the natural sciences and the study of family systems in research and projects that benefit families and the community,
  • Promote the efforts of individuals to develop a base of responsible leadership from which to address problems in the family and in organizations and
  • Support applications within the health sciences, education, social service, religious, and business institutions

The natural systems theory developed by Murray Bowen provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing human problems.  Basic theoretical concepts can guide work in medicine, mental health, research, social services, education, politics, religious vocation, and business. The theory however is neither a fixed body of knowledge nor a set of techniques that can be appended to conventional thinking.

The power in this theory lies in learning to “think systems” and to work on differentiation of self as the basis for unique solutions to common problems.

Victoria Harrison

These educational programs serve as a resource to individuals within existing organizations, professions, and fields who are motivated to better understand and address the part that relationships and patterns of reaction play in health and human functioning. The direction of projects is diverse and develops out of the background that individuals bring to the study of Bowen theory.

Although applications of theory, science, and knowledge vary with the background and interests of students, learning to “think systems” is guided by several common principles. People come to discern the difference between thinking and subjective reactions, between assumption and fact. People learn to the implication of various ways of thinking for action and outcome. People develop the ability to see for themselves, to bring a unique perspective to any human dilemma. People learn how to gain new knowledge about a situation or about others. People develop their ability to be an influence within the family or work systems for the best that can be, not through telling others what to do but through working on one’s own reactivity in relation to others.

People vary in how quickly they are able to develop their ability to think for themselves, to recognize subjective reactions, and develop a more factual perspective. People vary in their ability to see the system they are part of, to see their impact on others and the effect others have on self. The process of learning involves change in how people relate to each other and change in the person, in brain, biology and behavior.

Learning to think systems in relation to human behavior is dependent upon emotional changes within the learner.

Michael Kerr

People can best learn through careful study in their own family where the impact of relationships and subjective reactions are most evident. Professionals are not exempt from problems in the family and those who direct their studies toward live concerns will learn most quickly. People learn about the factors outlined in the concepts of Bowen theory through observation and practice, example, and trial and error experiences in their own family. Change is based on understanding the part one’s own reactions play in the system and on working to change self. The educational programs offered by CSNSF are designed to allow time for people to learn at their own rate and to promote study and practice that will allow people to proceed as quickly as possible.

Individual Consultation for the study of one’s own family and for work on differentiation of self is an essential component of these educational programs. One cannot learn or teach from books alone. Regular meetings with a coach focus on understanding emotional patterns in the family that govern what happens in life and at work. The coach or consultant is experienced in the study of family systems and committed to differentiation of self as the basis for learning and change.

Continuing Education Credits for CSNSF Educational Programs are approved in Social Work, LMFT, and LPC.  Clergy from various denominations have arranged CEU credit for these programs.