Bowen Family Systems Essays Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Theory, Family, Counseling, Client, Counselor, Workplace, Information, Goals

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/16

Concepts of the theory that makes it appropriate for the case

The theory best suited for treating Ana’s case is the Bowen Family System’s theory. Bowen’s theory has eight major concepts namely; differentiation of self, triangles, nuclear family emotional process, family projection process, cutoff, multigenerational transmission process, sibling position, and societal emotional process. Concepts that make the theory more appropriate for this case are the differentiation of self, and triangles. Differentiation of self concept is used by counselors to describe how a client should cope with life challenges such as demands and help pursue lifetime goals. Ana needed more confrontation because she was experiencing hard moments after losing her job and needed higher levels of differentiation to relieve of depression and stresses. Differentiation helps the client separate thinking from feelings (Titelman, 1998). The second concept, triangles, relates to human relationship systems. The case study reveals that Ana lacked family and supportive friends despite coming from a financially stable family with educated siblings. The triangle concept represents a three-person system where anxiety and relationship are more addressed. Bowen argues that triangles have both negative and positive outcomes on clients depending on how one manages anxiety and reaction towards the counseling process (Titelman, 1998).

Reasons for choosing Bowen’s theory over others

As the name suggests, Bowen family systems theory helps in solving with family matters. Study by Chambers revealed that Bowen Family Systems Theory is the best suited to understand and solve family issues. The theory also helps in solving workplace related matters (Chambers, 2013). Ana was faced by both family and workplace issue; hence the theory plays the best role in Ana’s case. It forms one the first generation approach used in family therapy. Additionally, the theory seeks to address social phenomenon such as depression and stresses experienced in day-to-day living. Ana’s issues would be easily solved using the differentiation concept that helps in developing ego strength. The structural theory less often used in counseling because it is less reliable and does not concentrate of psychological approach to problem solving. On the other hand, the strategic family therapy only addresses problems requiring shorter time such as anger. Ana case needed more time to evaluate and intervene, which leaves the Bowen Family system the recommended theoretical approach.

The goals of counseling and intervention strategies used to achieve these goals

Taking Ana through a counseling process is initiated by the following goals. Firstly, the counselor’s main goal is to understand the client’s problems and needs and determine how to support her achieve getting rid of stresses and depression. Secondly, counseling will aim at making the client love the exercise by introducing different motivations. According to Ryan, Lynch, Vansteenkiste and Deci (2011), the counselor should look for motivational approaches in order to increase treatment effectiveness. The counselor should understand the best strategies that will help achieve counseling goals without having any negative outcome on the client. The best strategies for Ana’s case include behavioral strategies such as maintenance of a recovery perspective, monitoring recovery progress, increasing physical and emotional support, and using cognitive-behavioral therapeutic techniques.

Is the theory designed for short or long-term counseling?

Bowen family system is designed for long-term counseling because it involves many stages that the client must go through to achieve full recovery from the problem. All eight concepts of Bowen theory must be utilized in order to formulate specific hypotheses and achieve counseling goals. The main aim of the theory is to introduce a longer and comprehensive sequence of events that creates chains of reactions necessary to solve the prevailing position.

The counselor’s role with Ana

The counselor has a duty of ensuring Ana receives appropriate intervention because the outcome of the case study shows she suffered a lot from stress and depression. The main role of the counselor is to help Ana develop better coping strategies with the present and future stressors. The best way of ensuring effective cooperation between the counselor and the client is through developing a strong relationship in the first stages of the counseling process. Counseling relationship serves as an empowerment for the client to feel acceptable and loved in the society (Reinkraut, Motulsky, & Ritchie, 2009).
The client is the main element in a counseling program because recovery depends on the cooperation developed between the client and the counselor. In the following case, Ana has the responsibility of revealing all information requested by the counselor. The counselor may ask personal and confidential information which the client is expected to give without any hesitation. Secondly, Ana should attend all sessions and appointments given by the counselor without failure. Finally, Ana should have trust in the counseling process and believe in change in order to achieve better results.
For what population(s) is this theory most appropriate? How does this theory address the social and cultural needs of the client?
The Bowen Family Systems theory is more appropriate in addressing family cases especially those presented by parents or older adults. Ana is 24 years old and a single mother which makes the theory more appropriate for solving her problems. Secondly, Bowen’s theory touches more on family matters. The case of Ana shows that she was more depressed after suffering a double tragedy. Her husband who was deployed overseas leaving her to take care of the family alone, and then later she lost her job. Using the eight concepts, the counselor can easily end Ana’s problems while and make her understand the value of life. The theory addresses social and cultural needs of the client by bringing out the different between thoughts and feelings. Additionally, the theory touches on the relationship between the client and other family members in addressing social phenomenon. The theory also encourages socialization between couples and extended families (Nichols, 2013).

Helpful additional information

The case provided most information needed by the counselor to plan for Ana’s counseling sessions but some important information was omitted. The additional information of importance include health status of the child, the type of residence the family stays in, whether rented or owned, and what made her lose the job.

The risk associated with using Bowen family system’s theory

Bowen Family Systems theory is a long-term intervention process that introduces major risks to the client. Going through all eight concepts might take longer time than expected making the client lose hope and return back to the initial stages of depression.


Chambers, M. F. (2009). Nothing is as Practical as a Good Theory: Bowen Theory and the
Workplace - a Personal Application. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 30: 235–246.
Nichols, M. P. (2013). Family therapy: concepts and methods. Boston, Pearson.
Ryan, R. M., Lynch, M. F., Vansteenkiste, M., and Deci, E. L. (2011). Motivation and autonomy
in counseling psychotherapy, and behavior change: A look as theory and practice. The Counseling Psychologist, 39(2), 193-260
Reinkraut, R., Motulsky, S. L. & Ritchie, J. (2009). Developing a competent practitioner: Use of
self in counseling psychology training. Asian Journal of Counseling, 16(1), 7-29
Titelman, P. (1998). Clinical applications of Bowen family systems theory. New York: Haworth

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