Family Systems Therapy: Strengths and Thesis
Excerpt from Thesis :
Bowen therapists would respond that all members of the family unit share the same emotional 'skin' in a unique fashion. Within today's cultural context, because the nuclear family is given such importance, it often must be subject to particular examination. But "each concept in Bowen theory applies to nonfamily groups, such as work and social organizations. The concept of societal emotional process describes how the emotional system governs behavior on a societal level, promoting both progressive and regressive periods in a society" (Societal emotional process, 2009, the Bowen Center). Bowen theory ultimately does take a macro view, and sees the family system as interlocked in a series of family systems that make up a society.
Thus family systems therapy does allow for an analysis of an extended family, when these relationships are sufficiently impactful upon the individuals. The therapy analyzes multigenerational influences upon the family's collective psyche. It examines how assumptions about appropriate behavior can be passed from grandparent to parent to child, and have a negative impact upon all three generations. Another criticism of family systems therapy is that individuals are overlooked at the expense of the family unit, although family systems therapists would state that holistic change of the family system is needed for healing. For example, the tendency for projection of personal anxieties onto
the child requires treatment of the parent, and also treatment of the resultant anxiety that the child feels, because he has been the subject of the parent's hopes (such as succeeding in Little League because of a father's thwarted dreams) and fears (such as the fear that a young girl may repeat the mistakes of her mother and get pregnant at a young age, hence a highly repressive attitude towards sexuality exhibited in the household). Sibling position can also influence emotional makeup in a way that is not immediately evident, simply looking at the individual. To truly explore raw or repressed emotions requires dealing with as many people as possible around the individual who contributed to the creation of such negative emotions and coping mechanisms. Finally, treating the family makes it easier to treat psychological conditions with a possible physiological component, like a tendency towards depression or manic depression within the family history.
Bowen theory. (2009). The Bowen Center. Retrieved August 24, 2009 at http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html
Differentiation of the self. (2009). The Bowen Center. Retrieved August 24, 2009 at http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptds.html
Nuclear family emotional system. (2009). The Bowen Center. Retrieved August 24, 2009 at http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptnf.html
Societal emotional process. (2009). The Bowen Center. Retrieved August 24, 2009 at http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptsep.html
Triangles. (2009). The Bowen Center. Retrieved August 24, 2009 at http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/concepttri.html
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