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Archives for Bowen Family Systems Theory


Feel Like You Don’t Fit In? Learning To Celebrate Your Secret Self

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. Like you don’t quite fit in.

Maybe you’re carrying a certain sadness that sets you apart from the places that other people seem to inhabit right now. Or maybe you doubt your worth or your ability to contribute sometimes. Maybe you just feel “different.” Or even “weird.” Or that your values or the way you want to live your life...
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Bowen Family Systems Theory

Are Your Problems Actually Solutions? Finding Systemic Answers

"No problems."
That's what this sticker on an alleyway wall in my local neighbourhood is on about (in the photo, above).
It sounds like a pretty good No emotional meltdowns, no relationship dramas, no self-sabotage, no "failure."
But is it too optimistic? A bit utopian, even? Something to strive for, maybe, but not completely attainable?

Well, a branch of family systems therapy thinks not.
In fact, from...
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Bowen Family Systems Theory

What About the WHITE Sheep in the Family? Showing Your True Colours

It was after a couple of posts on the ‘black sheep’ of the family that Mary (a reader) posed a great question:

What about the ‘white’ sheep?

What about those of us who wrestle with a role that seems to almost shine or shimmer in the light (a bit mirage-like)? Who might feel the pressures to keep surpassing family expectations. Or the need to be the constant peacemakers, the bridge-builders, the...
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Bowen Family Systems Theory

Excavating Your Mental Health and Finding Buried Treasure

Mental health.”

They sound like pretty dull words.

And it seems we know best what they mean when things go wrong with them. We hear general statements about what mental health ‘should’ (or ‘shouldn’t’) look like for everyone. So it often seems like a kind of one-size-fits-all expression.

But if you dig a little deeper beneath their surface, buried within these two words lie all manner of riches. And there’s meaning...
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Bowen Family Systems Theory

Black Sheep, Scapegoats and Family Systems Therapy (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, in an effort to understand more about how black sheep and scapegoats are created, we looked into some of the theory behind “triangles” in families. We explored how Murray Bowen, the founder of family systems theory, thought that families fall into these key triangular patterns of relating to try to reduce tension. That by focusing on a “problem child” or black sheep or scapegoat,...
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Bowen Family Systems Theory

Black Sheep, Scapegoats and Family Systems Therapy (Part 1)

Do you have a black sheep in your family? Someone who’s considered the odd one out or a bit weird or not quite living up to the family ideal somehow. A misfit. An outsider. Maybe a ‘failure’.

Maybe you’re it…

Black sheep seem a fairly common phenomenon. Many families have one. Someone who the others might fret about or devote a lot of energy discussing when they’re not in earshot. Someone they’re generally...
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Growing a Garden of Individuality and Togetherness

If you’re into gardening at all, you’ll probably know that although plants like to grow alongside one another and create a supportive ‘microclimate’ together, they still need their own space.

Even at the time of seed planting, if you want to give them an optimum chance to flourish, you’ll need to include a certain distance between them.

Planted too close, and they can start to...
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