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

About Us

The Family Systems Institute

The Family Systems Institute provides a range of professional development in Bowen family systems theory to people in mental health, management, faith communities, educations and other human service fields. The mission is to make Bowen family systems theory more accessible for assisting in navigating human relationships. 

Those who have studied and applied Bowen’s theory in their life and work report: 

  • Increased self-awareness and responsibility 
  • Reduced anxiety through a clearer understanding of life’s relationships

The FSI Story

The Family Systems Institute was founded in April 2004 by Jenny Brown, assisted by Jo Wright. In June 2021, Lauren Errington succeeded Jenny Brown as the new Executive Director.

Dr. Jenny Brown with Dr Dan Papero – on sabbatical from the Bowen Centre 2015 (Photo by Andrea Maloney Schara)

The plans to establish the Family Systems Institute were in response to many in the family therapy and counselling community in Sydney and Australia to have a training venue in Dr Murray Bowen’s Family Systems model. While training centres in the USA had been operating in this approach for some decades, comprehensive training in Bowen’s model was not available in Australia.

Having trained at the Family Institute of Westchester, New York, in the early 90s, Jenny Brown saw the need for a local centre of training in Bowen’s approach. From its beginnings, the FSI has provided a venue for helping professionals and others to explore their own family of origin to increase ‘self in the system’ awareness.

The curriculum of core certificate programs and family of origin research groups has emphasised how theory can be practically applied to one’s own life and work. Jo Wright played a significant role in writing this curriculum.

Over the years, additional faculty and trainers have contributed to developing dynamic family systems informed professional development offerings – from introductory training in Bowen theory to more in-depth two-year programs. Popular annual conferences have been highlights of the FSI calendar since 2005. 

In 2015-16 the FSI became a registered Not or Profit organisation. It has a robust membership of people who have graduated from its certificate programs and continue to collaborate in thinking, applying and teaching Bowen Theory. It also has an independent board to oversee governance and strategic directions.

The FSI has an engaged group of Bowen Theory scholars who contribute to the growth of its programs. In 2019- 2020 our longstanding Certificate Program received accreditation from the Australian Association of Family Therapy. We formally rolled out this program in 2021 with Lauren Errington coordinating. In June 2021, the board of directors appointed Lauren Errington to lead the FSI into its next exciting phase.

Murray Bowen

Murray Bowen, 1913 – 1990, was a psychiatrist who researched human behaviour in relationships and developed a theory about the common patterns found in all emotional systems and how these patterns are transmitted across generations.

As individuals react to tension in relationships, predictable patterns of behaviour develop. Symptoms that impact healthy functioning can be avoided as individuals learn how to hold onto their thinking selves while at the same time remaining connected to significant others.

“…I finally knew one way through the impenetrable thicket which is the family emotional system.”

Murray Bowen

For more information on Bowen’s Theory, please refer to our resources page

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