Coming to grips with Bowen Family Systems Theory in a collaborative learning environment.

Family of Origin Research Group

…more knowledge of one’s distant family of origin can help one become aware that there are no angels or devils in a family; they were human beings, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, each reacting predictably to the emotional issues of the moment and each doing the best they could with their own life course

Murray Bowen, 1972



This programme will be beneficial for both newcomers to Bowen Family Systems Theory and to anyone wishing to take their existing Bowen Family Systems knowledge to a deeper level. The group offers a solid engagement with theory and application.

Credit: the Bowen Center

Family of origin research groups provide a ‘hands on’ way to learn about Bowen’s theoretical concepts. Through the use of one’s own three generational family diagram as a tool for observing and thinking differently about the facts, key events, and functioning of family members over several generations, participants will begin to ‘see’ their family as an emotional system and to recognise the patterns of reactivity that govern their own and other family members’ lives and relationships. This provides a basis for ongoing research and more objective observation of strengths, vulnerabilities, adaptability and behavioural interactions in response to the circumstances of life over generations.

These groups are NOT therapy groups, nor are interventions for managing self and family the focus of the discussions. The focus is on learning about yourself and your functioning in the generational family and on understanding your family as an emotional unit.

Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how their learning enhances understanding of their functioning in workplace / clinical role and in personal relationships. Discussion will also include focus on methods that participants can use to gather FoO information and to open up communication constructively with extended family.

Strict codes of confidentiality will apply.

Textbook: Harrison, Victoria (2018) The Family Diagram and Family Research. Center for Study of Natural systems and the Family. Houston, Texas

Facilitator: Lily Mailler, FSI Trainer.

Note: This training is a can be done before registering and will count as recognised prior learning (RPL) for our core training programs.

Minimum Requirements for Enrolment

  • Some existing basic knowledge of Bowen Family Systems theory*. Minimum of 6 hours of FSI training and/or previous or ongoing supervision / coaching with an FSI faculty member.
  • Commitment to attendance at all scheduled sessions, including the orientation session
  • Competence with and access to Zoom meeting platform
  • Purchase of required text book (see above) in advance of the orientation session

*If you are keen to enrol in the programme but do not have the existing basic knowledge of Bowen Family Systems Theory as per the above list, it is possible to engage in some prior learning and study set by FOO programme coordinator to attain readiness for the group. If you wish to find out more about his possibility, please indicate this on the enquiry form and a faculty member will make contact with you to discuss further.

Minimum Technical requirements for participation in the online group

  • Desk top computer or laptop (the use of smart phone for video link is not acceptable). It may be possible to use a tablet or iPad if you have compatible software and it is on a stand.
  • Wired or wireless headsets or earbuds
  • Sufficient bandwidth to support stable internet connection and a video conferencing service
  • Scanner or Scanning App (eg Genius Pro or Adobe Scan) that can create good quality PDF images of diagrams for emailing between participants (photographs in their native form are not clear enough)


Size and Time

We will meet as a closed group of maximum 6 participants for 8 x 2 hour sessions. If the group size is smaller each session will run for 1.5 hours.  An additional 1 hour orientation session is compulsory. Attendance at all sessions is a condition of enrolment.


Learning methods will include a combination of readings, discussion, short presentations by participants and other Bowen theorists describing their research and thinking, feedback from trainer and some audio-visual material. A rich exposure to theory occurs through each participant’s research efforts and their subsequent presentations which facilitates illustration of 6 different family systems.  Thus, each participant’s attendance at all sessions is essential (consideration will be made for genuine emergencies).

At the orientation session, the facilitator will outline further details regarding:

  • the format of the first and subsequent sessions, arrange the presentation schedule, clarify and discuss the ethics and expectations of working together, including codes of confidentiality
  • Address any concerns participants may have about working together
  • Review the technical requirements with regard to the exchange of diagrams between participants prior to each session
  • Clarify expectations regarding preparation for each session
  • Provide further instructions on the use of the features of Zoom meeting service for maximising learning from an online format of the FOO research groups
  • Introduction to the basics of Google Classroom which will be used as the vehicle for student’s access to all materials related to the program

Dates and Booking

Expressions of interest for enrolling in a Family of Origin Group can be made by completing the enquiry form below. Our Family of Origin groups are popular and approved applications will go on a waiting list for a group, and then you will be notified about registration for an upcoming group when one becomes available.

The required criteria of 6 hours of engagement with the FSI / Bowen theory prior to enrolment in one of these groups provides a strong platform for participants to engage with Family of Origin research with some prior systems thinking and experience coming into the group

Family of Origin Group Costs

$1020 plus GST

$1122 incl. GST

Can be paid in 2 instalments of $571.50 (3 months apart)


If you have further questions about this program, please email

If you would like to apply for a place in this group, please download an enquiry form and return by email to

Skip to toolbar