Differentiation of Self in the Presence of Chronic Family Symptoms

Differentiation of Self: Bowen Family Systems Perspectives.  Rutledge, NY. To be published in 2014

The capacity of Mrs. Morris to connect to her son while minimizing her anxiety followed years of enormous work on learning Bowen Theory and focusing on her own functioning.  Bowen theory provides such a powerful process for change through the consistent focus on facts and the emotional patterns found within an emotional system.  This allows a broad focus on a dilemma to encompass a wide range of facts.  For example, Mrs. Morris struggled the most with her own immaturity when considering issues that the son had with the school, teachers, and counselors, and his Individual Education Plan (IEP).  Her automatic reaction was to protect and defend her son concerning school issues and to be angry and blaming of school officials.  What would occur in therapy sessions as each school issue arose was a review of the facts. The therapist’s questions would include: “in what ways did the son contribute to the development of the problem?”  As defensive answers would come from Mrs. Morris, questions such as “if your son is going to be successful in adulthood, what is it that he needs to learn or accept about the school’s expectations?