Patricia Meyer has long believed that individuals can effectively learn about emotions, human functioning, human problems, and how to bring changed functioning into one’s life in the classroom whether it be classes, workshops or seminars.  It has to do with a different kind of learning than when focus is on the personal problems of self.  In a classroom, the focus is on predictable patterns seen in humans, the kinds of facts that contribute to those patterns, and predictable solutions that can be built within self.  When description of change within self is generalized to others, it can sometimes be easier to hear and to learn.  This is why Meyer has taught so many different seminars over the years.

Seminars have included:

  • The Transition into High School Seminars
    A Seminar for Parents and Professionals
  • The Journey to Solid Self Seminars
  • The Functional Characteristics of Leaders and Champions (based on Ted Turners movie, Gettysburg)
  • The Bowen Theory Concept of Differentiation Seminar
  • The Role and Function of a Mission Statement

Seminars range from one day,  weekend,  six month, or to a full nine month curriculum


The Transition into High School Seminars.

From the recent Fairfax County tragedy, the Columbine incident in the past, and the number of adolescents struggling to function productively, our society has witnessed gaping holes in its ability to deal with teenage angst. Families are struggling with preparing stable, competent, children who are ready for a productive adulthood.

The Seminar deals with challenges families face today in handling the transition from elementary to middle school, and from middle school into high school. Having worked with families and adolescents in Fairfax County for more than forty years, Meyer delves into the difficulties that families encounter in these transitions. Indeed, the very roles and focus of parents has to evolve dramatically as their children move through the developmental stages.

Parents have to address the three primary parental roles and functions as their children move from birth to adulthood.  Meyer believes the three primary parental processes are providing for, protection from, and preparation for. The ideal outcome is the growth of children who are competent, confident, and intact (physically whole and healthy). The Transition Seminar discusses each of these three roles in depth and how they change in relevance during the different phases of childhood. Of particular focus of the Seminar is the alignment of the three parental roles during the transition into, and out of, high school. The Seminar will assist parents to have a clear understanding of the struggles their adolescent will experience.

In addition to discussion of the roles of parents is a discussion of the following specific topics:

  • Support of the uniqueness of every child
  • The parental skill of deep listening
  • The value of the child as a human being vs. the performance of the child
  • How to teach children the lessons of life
  • How to be there for the child
  • The importance of active engagement and participation in the child’s world
  • Being a trustworthy parent

Who Should Attend

  • Parents
  • Extended family members
  • Any interested teenager who is thirteen or older
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Teachers
  • Other professionals

The Journey to Solid Self Seminars

The Solid Self Seminars present each of the concepts of Bowen theory.  Attendees learn the concepts and determine how the characteristics of each concept are present in their family of origin and what impact that reality has had on their functioning.  Each attendee prepares a family diagram of their family and learns how to mark the areas of emotional voltage found in their family’s emotional patterns.  From this foundation, attendees can determine what, if any, changes they would chose to make in their emotional maturity and functioning.  The Seminar then focuses on strategies to work towards the sought changes.

Discussion Example One:  How humans respond to family patterns they have grown up in the midst of. There is an automatic, not thoughtful, reaction to family patterns from one’s family, replicate the pattern (do the same thing) or compensate for the pattern (do the opposite).  For those who can carefully observe their family patterns, there is a third option, thoughtfully observe and decide, rather than react, how self wants to function.

Discussion Example Two:  The critical importance of knowing the members of one’s extended family.   For instance, knowing our parent’s siblings can provide significant new information about our parent’s development,  how they came to have the functioning patterns they have, and the sources of emotional voltage they exhibit.  For example, resentment towards one’s father is discovered within his older siblings.   it is discovered that all of the siblings older than Dad had to quit high school, get jobs, and provide their salaries to their parents.  By Dad’s high school time, there was more money and he became the first to go to college.  Predictably, those older siblings resent the life style and community status that Dad enjoys.  Understanding the stark difference in opportunity the older siblings had in comparison to Dad allows self to be compassionate and accepting of the resentment towards Dad which allows for potential new closeness to one’s aunts and uncles.

A different learning might be that Dad was the second son after Uncle John who was a hellion in childhood, always upsetting his parents.  It is discovered that Dad, in reaction, worked to remain under the radar, quietly avoiding attention.  As an adult, Dad was conflict avoidant and unable to provide leadership to his children.

Discussion Example Three:  Becoming aware of voltage one’s parents developed in childhood allows self to see the impact in one’s own functioning.  Did the self develop patterns that were the same as their parent, or the opposite to their parent.  In what ways can the self see the reaction within self to the parent’s voltage.  Patterns within self become very clear and their evolution obvious.


The functional Characteristics of Leaders and Champions Seminar.

Discussion begins with the Bowen Theory concept of leadership.  What does it mean to lead yourself within your life, your issues, those things self believes and stands for, walking your talk, living in a thoughtfully principled and  predictable way.  Then, focus shifts to self leadership in the system of the each of the emotional systems in which one lives… system, work system, neighborhood system, religious system, community system.

The Seminar evaluates the functioning of generals at the time of Gettysburg, those who exhibit excellent leadership and those who do not.  For example, there is focus on General Joshua Chamberlain for his productive and successful leadership with the more than two hundred Maine soldiers who were in mutiny over their contracts, refusing to fight.  Following Chamberlain’s effective speech to the Maine men, less than ten men refused to enter the fight.  Later, at the surrender at Appomatox, it was Chamberlain who called the Union soldiers into formal salute as the Confederate soldiers arrived in defeat to turn over their guns. Not only were the defeated confederates saluted, they were also allowed to take their guns home.

Discussion compares and contrasts the outstanding and ineffective leadership of generals on both sides of the Civil War.


The Bowen Theory Concept of Differentiation Seminar.

Differentiation of Self is the cornerstone concept in Bowen Theory.  It has to do with the two forces all individuals face, the strong pull to belong, to have approval, to feel the same as others and the opposite pull to stand for self, voicing what self believes and consistently living those beliefs.  In other words, living a life where it is clear what I stand for and what you can expect from me.  If the togetherness pull within self is to strong, anxiety will be very high and the self will need to be in harmony with others even if that means going along with decisions the self does not agree with.  On the other hand, if the pull for individuality is to strong, self can speak and act in ways that do not respect the realities of the emotional system and act to polarize against the system.  High functioning would be observed in those who know self, live accurately what self believes, respects the reality of the system.  This self can define self, what self will and will not do, and at the same validate the reality of the system and the decisions of those within the system.  Done right, the system may disagree with the defined self, yet respect the path the individual has set out for self.  When emotional systems have a member within the system who can respectfully define self, they are calmer and more thoughtful.

The Seminar explores the characteristics of togetherness and individuality.  Further, it explores what it takes to increase one’s level of individuality.  First, the focus moves to the experience one had in their family of origin regarding togetherness and individuality and the impact it had upon the development of self.  Next, it focuses on the steps to increase a more solid self.  Finally, the focus explores living a life as a responsible self while respectful of those in each of the emotional system in which one lives.


The Role and Function of a Mission Statement Seminar.

This Seminar looks at the work of Stephen Covey on the role and function of a mission statement.  Moving from Bowen Theory’s concept of Differentiation where self can act on facts in spite of overwhelming emotion and reactivity,  the focus turns to how a mission statement can contribute to living a more solid life. Discussion includes evaluation of the structures created by Covey to consistently live those beliefs.  An individual can be clear about what self believes but not be clear on how to live those beliefs.  On the other hand, the individual can be clear on how to structure functioning, but not be clear about what self believes.  The Seminar attempts to provide the opportunity to clarify one’s beliefs and then to build a structure, a Mission Statement, on living those beliefs.