Penn State

Elizabeth A. Skowron - Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Family therapy in clinical practice

Author: Murray Bowen

Book Description:

My program of research has focused on evaluating the scientific contributions of family systems theory. Family systems approaches are widely used by mental health professionals (e.g., psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, and social workers) to assess and intervene therapeutically with individuals, couples, and families, though these therapies have historically received little scientific attention. Systems theories generally propose that families have emergent properties and that individual behavior is difficult to understand without also knowing about the network of family relationships within which individuals are embedded. Bowen's account of family systems theory, outlined in this groundbreaking text, is considered by many to be the most comprehensive theory of individual functioning from a family systems perspective. My research scholarship has focused on examining a set of three interrelated questions concerning the role of his family systems theory for understanding human development and functioning.

1. Does Bowen family systems theory provide an accurate representation of human functioning in relationships?
2. What role does the family system play in reducing risk or fostering resilience in its members?
3. Do Bowen family systems-based interventions reduce suffering and enhance quality of life among children, youth, adults, and their families?


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