Bowen Family Systems, Structural, and Strategic Models Theory Application

Bowen Family Systems, Structural, and Strategic Models Theory Application

PCN – 500 Counseling Theories

Bowen Family Systems, Structural, and Strategic Models Theory Application

Considered one of the mayor schools of counseling and psychotherapy, family systems approach can also be used with individuals. Assessment is both formal and informal. In this paper, I will present a case study analysis of a 24-year-old patient using Bowen Family Systems.

Concepts of the Theory

The Bowenian theory is based on family systems theory, which states that individuals are inseparable from their group of relationships. People learn many of their ethics and principles from their families. Patients such as Anna who experiences emotional turmoil related to the family of origin may find it helpful to work with a mental health professional in order to begin working through these issues.

Theory Choice

I chose this theory over the others because Bowenian theory works with the individual and how the family of origin has affected Anna’s life. Patients develop a sense of self within their family of origin. Kids who are shown love and kept safe will improve a strong sense of self, in Anna’s case if love and safety are frequently not available, a child sense of self may be week or damage which is evident in Anna having poor coping skills and thinking she is not capable of surviving individually. I did not chose structural or strategic theory because they are primarily focused in family issues, and unfortunately, Anna does not have her family there to support her. The strategic theory is shorter on concepts and techniques than others are. The therapist belief the way to change is for each individual to have specific tasks and as I mentioned before this is not viable for Anna because of distance. The focus on the therapy in these two cases is not on the individual but the social situation and Anna needs help for herself.

Goals of Counseling

An amount of mental health circumstances to include stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem if present can be addressed by looking at both optimistic and destructive family origin of experience. In therapy, and with the help of her therapist, Anna can map family patterns with a genogram and begin to understand the motives that certain problems may have develop and maybe understand the details behind certain principles and reactions. Devoting time to work through family issues can help Anna overcome fears, attain goals, and feel a sense of peace. It is my opinion that Anna may have suffered severe abuse or neglect in the family of origin which has led to certain serious problems throughout life, she states her father being a heavy drinker, and I am led to believe he may not been there for her. Moreover, the close relationship with her family that she longs for does not really exist.

Short-term or Long-term Counseling

Considering the fact that Anna is on her own and there will be no family involvement, theory will be designed for short-term counseling. Bringing unresolved family of derivation issues into her marriage can generate difficulties that are frequently confusing and devastating to both partners. This is aggravated by the fact that both Anna and her husband are from different cultures.

Counselor’s Role

Bowenian family therapy will look at the problems that Anna is having as a symptom of dysfunction in the entire family. Bowenians counselors will look at her entire family as a system. The basic point of this theory is that all human relationships are driven by individuality and togetherness, i.e. our constant needs for companion and independence. The process of therapy has many steps and begins even before Anna arrives for her first appointment. Here are several steps and how to manage them: Anna first inquire will be a phone call or email regarding an appointment since she is in crisis mode. First appointment, as therapist we should not hurry into indorsing they start therapy, they may need to talk and get a feeling of who I am before deciding to see me for therapy. I have to be sure to clarify what therapy is, the way it works, and respond to any questions about what Anna can assume from therapy in overall and from therapy with me. This is part of a procedure that makes the therapist a partner in Anna’s therapy. The start of therapy is a discussion that reveals bit by bit why Anna is seeking therapy, the way she thinks and functions in the world. It is part of the relation process I am building with Anna as a person; I will direct the process and communicate to Anna what therapy is like. The therapist communicates the understanding of the problem, interest in Anna as a person, tolerance and acceptance.

Client’s Role

The self-concept is a vital part of our knowledge and inspirations of our opinion of the world and perception of one self. For example, Anna might be thought-provoking to others and yet reflect herself to be unexciting. She judges and assesses the image she has of herself as a bore and this esteeming will be visible in her self-esteem. Unlike other therapies, Anna will be accountable for cultivating her life, not the therapist. Anna will decide for herself what is wrong and what should be done about it. I hope to help Anna achieve personal development and finally to self-actualize.

Population and Social/Cultural Needs

Family members are determined to achieve an equilibrium of inner and exterior differentiation. In Anna’s case with her family being in Guatemala, this would have to be done via homework assignments, causing anxiety, triangulation, and emotional caught off. Nuclear family emotional processes, sibling positions and multigenerational transmission patterns resulting in a family ego mass will affect Anna and her family. The theory lends itself to be practice in any social level and culture.

Additional Information

One piece of additional information that I would like to know is what were the behaviors of Anna’s mother and father? What does she mean by “close family relationship”? What problems did her father’s alcoholism bring to the family? Where any of her brothers and sisters affected by and addiction?

Risk of Bowen Family Systems

Bowen stated “it might be difficult for a family that has severe cut offs to begin more emotional contact with the extended family, but any effort toward reducing the cut off with the extended family will soften the intensity of the family problems reduce the symptoms, and make any kind of therapy more productive” (Wikipedia, 2016).


Questioning the family and composing a family genogram are the basic techniques I will use with Anna, my goal of using this theory will be for Anna to solve the presenting problems by using the Bowen theory.


Bowenian Family Therapy (n.d). Retrieved from

Good (2016). Family Systems Therapy. Retrieved from

Murdock, N. L. (2013). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A case approach (3rd ed.).

University of Missouri at Kansas City: Pearson Education, Inc.

Wikipedia, (2016). Murray Bowen. Retrieved from

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