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Copy of Bowen Family Therapy (Assessment Process & Genograms)

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Vishwamohan Thakur

on 14 January 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Bowen Family Therapy (Assessment Process & Genograms)

Bowen Family Therapy
(Assessment & Genograms)

Bowen Family Therapy

Developent of BowenTheory
Development of The Genogram
Introduction of Family

Guiding Principle
Increasing the ability to distinguish between thinking and feeling, and learning to use that ability to resolve relationship problems.

Views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit.
Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist, originated the theory. He formulated the theory by using systems thinking to integrate knowledge of the human species as a product of evolution and knowledge from family research. A core assumption is that an emotional system that evolved over several billion years, governs human relationship systems. The emotional system affects most human activity and is the principal driving force in the development of clinical problems.
Developed with 8 interlocking concepts

Differentiation of Self
Nuclear Family Emotional System
Family Projection Process
Multigenerational Transmission Process
Emotional Cutoff
Sibling Position
Societal Emotional Process
•Distinguish between thinking and feeling in order to resolve relationship problems

•Achieve Self Focus—recognizing one’s own role in interpersonal process

•Process is more important than content

•Assessment begins with history of the presenting problem

•A avenue to achieve this is through Genograms

The standard genogram was developed in the early 1980s by a committee of leading family physicians to be used to record and track family medical history efficiently and reliably.
Original format was published in 1985 and since, there have been a number of modifications recommended by different groups around the world.
What are Genograms?

What: Genograms are schematic diagrams listing family members and their relationships

Why: Allows exploration of emotional boundaries, conflicts, openness, current and potential relationships in the family

What: Goes three generations back from IP (Identified Patient or Index Person)

Why: Point is to assess patterns of emotional processes passed down through generations

What to Include in Genogram

What: Year is written in upper left hand corner

Why: Genograms are dynamic they show a snapshot of current relationship


IP (identified patient or index person) has double lines around their symbol

A person who is dead has an “X” inside their symbol and the date of their death

Include the name and age inside each symbol.
Include their geographic location next to their symbol.

Connecting the Dots

Horizontal lines represent marriage. Include date of marriage.
Vertical lines connect parents and children. Include date of birth.
Separation and divorce are represented by one or two backslashes on the horizontal marriage line. Include the date of the separation or divorce.

Why: Marriage and birth whether conflict opened lines of communication in families, or if it caused emotional cut-offs, and is used to trace these cutoffs, conflicts, and triangles.

Relationship Symbols: Bringing Genogram to Life
Co-creating genogram with client is sacred work. Sensitivity and empathy are critical.
Overly close or fused: Three solid lines
Conflictual: Zig-zag lines
Distant: Dotted Line
Estranged or cut off: Broken Line

Shedding Light
Triangles: become clear after the qualities of the relationships are visually depicted.

Triangulation occurs when it is necessary to detour conflict between two people by involving a third.

Types of Genograms

Beyond the basic genogram, many clinicians and researchers have developed genograms to assess functioning for families and individuals within various populations, areas of practice, and using an array of interventions.

Solution-focused (Zide, 2000)
Military (Weiss, 2010)
Cultural (Keiley, 2007; Hardy & Laszloffy, 1995)
Trauma (Jordan, 2004)
Spiritual or Religious (Frame, 2007)

Genogram Research

Very little research on the effectiveness of genograms.

Because there is yet to be a universally agreed upon method for assessments using genograms, little research has been done on their effectiveness. Currently research is focused on operationalizing the use of the genogram to improve fidelity of the assessment tool for future use in research (Foster, Jurkovic, Ferdinand, & Meadows, 2002).

Information gets corrected and expanded as the clinician learns more about the family history.
Information is always missing from genograms, but what info is missing in itself may give clues to family secrets, cutoffs, etc.
Genograms often reveal complex relational patterns that would be missed if not mapped across few generations (most go back 3 generations).
Issues difficult to capture...
Diagram graphics always involve a tradeoff between the amount of information included and the clarity of the graphic
Kris Jenner (Kardashian) is 56-year-old Caucasian female. She works as the manager of her three daughters, can be seen on her families reality tv show, and also owns her own clothing line.

Bruce Jenner is a 62-year-old Caucasian male. He was the Olympic Decathlon Gold Medal winner in 1976. He has done some work as a motivational speaker and has also worked in multiple tv productions. He can often be seen on his families reality tv show.

Kendall Jenner is a 16-year-old Caucasian female. She enjoys modeling and also participates in the family reality tv show.

Wrap Up
Community involvement
History of drug or alcohol abuse
Thank You!!!


Foster, A.F., Jurkovic, G.J., Ferdinand, L.G., & Meadows, L., (2002). The impact of the genogram on
couples: A manualized approach. The Family Journal, 10 (1), 34-40. doi:10.1177/1066480702101006

Frame, M.W. (2007). The spiritual genogram in family therapy. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 26
(2), 211-216. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2000.tb00290.x

Hardy, K. V. and Laszloffy, T. A. (1995), The cultural genogram: Key to training culturally competent
family therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 21, 227–237. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-

Jordan, K. (2004). The color-coded timeline trauma genogram. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 4
(1), 57-70. doi: 10.1093/brief-treatment/mhh00

Keiley, M.K., Dolbin, M., Hill, J., Karuppaswamy, N., Liu, T., Natrajan R., Poulson, S., Robbins, N.,
Robinson, P. (2007). The cultural genogram: Experiences from within a marriage and family
therapy training program. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 28 doi:10.1111/j.1752-

McGoldrick, M., Gerson, R., & Petrey, S. (2008). Genograms: Assessment and intervention (3rd Edition).
NY, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

Nichols, M. & Schwartz, R. (2009). The essentials of family therapy. (5th Edition). Boston, MA: Allyn and

Weiss, E.L., Coll, J.E., Gerbauer, J., Smiley, K., Carillo. (2010). The military genogram: A solution-focused
approach for resiliency building in service members and their families. The Family Journal, 18
(4), 395-406. doi:10.1177/1066480710378479

Zide, M.R., Gray, S.W. (2000). The solutioning process: Merging the genogram and the solution-focused
model of practice. Journal of Family Social Work, 4 (1) . doi:10.1300/J039v04n01_02

The Center for the Study the Family. Bowen Family Therapy. Georgetown Family Center. Retrieved
from http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html

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