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

Individual Supervision and Family of Origin Coaching

The FSI has a network of experienced family systems supervisors and coaches available for individual professional and personal development.

General coaching and supervision $220 plus GST per hour. Ministry coaching and supervision $120 plus GST per hour.

Group supervision for organisations or workplaces is also available. Contact the FSI for information and costs on clinical supervision groups for your organisation or systems thinking for leadership teams.

Contact the FSI to find out more at

Bowen Theory & Supervision

“Bowen’s goal of inviting the differentiation of both teacher and trainee translates into a collaborative supervision relationship where neither party functions for the other. Each is a resource to the other in sharing their observations of human behaviour much like a natural scientist would describe observations of other species…….

The question: Can you describe what happened between you and your client in the session is given priority over asking about the content of the client concerns. Both supervisor and supervisee endeavour to wrestle objectively with the facts of how people are dealing with their lived experience in a case.” MacKay L & Brown J 2014

Bowen Theory and Family of Origin Coaching

“A 3-4 generational family diagram/genogram is used as a way of mapping family history and looking for patterns and emotionally laden themes. ….The coach helps the coachee to identify gaps in knowledge, as highlighted by the family diagram and hypothetical questions are used to explore what process is likely to ensue if the client is to get to know each family member better. When an understanding of the systems way of dealing with anxiety about relationship attachments is achieved, they are encouraged to plan brief steps of contacting family members and subsequently observing and listening to them in a research minded way. This information is brought back to therapy/coaching and further hypotheses are developed about the role the person plays in the system, what a less reactive role would look like and what might be the reactions of others to any changes they may make. The individual focuses their thought and effort on changing the way they relate in their family, not on trying to change others… The coaching effort aims to assist the client to work at being able to maintain their objective thinking, whilst in the midst of a tumultuous emotional family situation, yet still being able to stay in contact with family members.” Brown J 2008

Theoretical concepts

Before commencing Bowen informed supervision or coaching it is important to get an overall sense of the theoretical concepts.

These links are valuable preparation:

Learn about Bowen Theory

  • The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory, experiences of a fictional family are used to illustrate and explain each concept.
  • Introductory videos describing the basic theoretical concepts of Bowen theory. The Basic Series features one hour lectures by Dr. Bowen. In The Bowen Kerr Interview Series, Dr. Kerr interviews Dr. Bowen on theory related questions.
  • The family diagram— an important tool in the application of Bowen theory

The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family

Bowen Family Systems Theory

  • Background Concepts and Assumptions: four ideas intrinsic to the theory, chronic anxiety, basic life forces, emotional process, and the family as an emotional unit.
  • The eight concepts of the theory

Vermont Center for Family Studies


We also offer group supervision and coaching:

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