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

Family of Origin Research Groups

Research & Discussion Groups


These groups assist the participant to be a researcher in their own family of origin system and to understand their position and those of other family members, in the pattern of relationships. With the use of a family diagram participants research and present the facts of previous generations. This provides the basis for learning about systems patterns and the variations in functioning of different family lines and family members. This group provides a ‘hands on’ way to learn and test Bowen’s theoretical concepts by seeing how they apply to one’s own family. Participants consider patterns of triangles and different symptom vulnerabilities in the different families represented by the group and facilitator. They consider the ways of managing system challenges that are present in all families with variations in intensity. Discussion will focus on ways participants can gather information and open up communication constructively with extended family.

This is NOT designed to be a therapy group. Interventions for managing self differently in the family are NOT the focus of the discussions – the focus is on learning about self in the generational family system as a way of appreciating the family as an emotional system.

Participants will have opportunity to reflect on how this research and learning assist them in their clinical/ or work roles. Relevant Articles are provided to supplement the personal research and add to the group discussion.

Strict codes of confidentiality apply.

Testimonials from our 2015 group

The FOO group was a really worthwhile experience.  Thinking about theory in application to my own family helped to bring some fairly complex concepts to life.

 – Jane

Foo group was a great way for me to start thinking about how my relationships with my own family influence my relationships and responses in other situations including work. Starting to think about this in a supported way has helped me become more aware of my reactivity and has helped me start to work towards being more able to consider other parts of a situation – parts beyond my own response and position. Talking about this in a group was also a great way to learn from others and realise that each family has similar and different challenges. Thanks Linda for your knowledge and wisdom.
– Katherine

I found the FOO group fascinating and it revealed a lot about the emotional life of my family of origin. Of course this is useful in my adult life since the patterns recur in different scenarios with people who are close to me now. The course also provides a yardstick for understanding where clients are at.

– Chris

Upcoming Family of Origin Coaching & Research Series 2017:

Time:  4pm to 6pm. 

Dates: Wednesdays: March 15th; April 12th; May 17th; June 21st; July 12th; Aug 16th; Sep 13th and Oct 11th 2017.

Trainer: Lily Mailler Reg. Psych


“Working toward becoming a more responsible and differentiated individual in one’s own family provides an avenue for lessening tendencies to become over involved with one’s clinical families, and it helps the family therapist avoid emotional ‘burnout’, a common occupational hazard for psychotherapists.” (The Therapist’s Own family P.Titelman,1987, pp. 3-4).


Group size and times:

We will meet as a closed group of 4 participants (5 including trainer). Participants are required to make a commitment to 8 sessions spread over a 9-12 month period.

Group Format:

At the first session the trainer will present a brief overview of their family system and functional position and link it with theory, as an example of the kinds of information and thinking required to research a family emotional system. Additionally, at the first meeting we will discuss the ethics and expectations of working together, clarify any issues regarding working together in this way and allocate individual presentation times.

At subsequent meetings participants will have an opportunity present their ‘research’, observations and reflections and to share their thinking as to how these observations relate to theory and offer opportunities for learning. Each participant will receive feedback and reflections from the trainer, to assist with further efforts. Participants will also have the opportunity of learning from hearing about other participants observations and thinking. Guidelines for how to do this will be provided and discussed at the first session. Reading material will be provided for additional support and guidance.

Individual Coaching:

The Individual explores with a coach their own family system, ways to observe themselves within it and thinking about ways to define themselves in a more differentiated manner. Individual coaching may focus on a specific issue in their relationships which will be viewed both in the current and previous generational context. One of the premises for this work is that therapists can only take their clients as far in their self-definition efforts as the therapist has been able to take themselves. Hence clinicians can utilize coaching as part of professional supervision and development.

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