Societal Regression & the Child-Focused Society

Societal Regression & the Child-Focused Society

What Happens When Helicopter Parents
Are Hit by Boomerang Children?

“If you keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’,
you’ll keep gettin’ what you’ve been gettin’.”

Societies vary in functional levels of differentiation and amount of chronic anxiety in a manner similar to families and individuals. Emotionally reactive behaviors in a societal context follow the same attack – defend, pursue – withdraw interactions as do familial relationships. Coalitions and group conflict are analogous to fusion and cut-off.

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What It Is, Is What It Is

What It Is, Is What It Is

Omelet and Soufflé, Same or Different? A man is but the product of his thoughts – what he thinks, he becomes. ― Mahatma Gandhi Most dichotomies are false ones; the mind/body and nature/nurture ones coming most readily to mind. A discussion in the LinkedIn Counselling & Psychotherapy Group concerning the…

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A Bowen Theory Lexicon

A Bowen Theory Lexicon

How Even the Great Ones Get Confused ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ’The…

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The Practice Is the Performance

The Practice Is the Performance

Walking the Talk

“This work is a truly personal one;
we only know the whole truth of ourselves.”
— Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein

Murray Bowen began his essay, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, with ”there are striking discrepancies between theory and practice in psychotherapy,” which begs the question, what exactly is the practice of Bowen Family Systems Theory “Coaching”?

If we define “practice” in the sense of doing something regularly and consistently, as action rather than thought or ideas; not as a rehearsal, not as a means of perfecting and getting somewhere, but as a commitment to a new way of being with others, then how do we best develop a practice based on Bowen’s theory?

Sometimes I think about the analogy between basic/pure science/mathematics and applied science/applied mathematics/engineering. Other times I think that the operationalization of theory in clinical practice is just that.

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The Structure, Function and Emotional Process of Triangles

The Structure, Function and Emotional Process of Triangles

What Kind of Company Always Creates a Crowd?

“one’s company,
two’s a crowd,
and three’s a party.”
— Andy Warhol

Life rarely happens in ones or twos, but almost always in threes or more; and more specifically and theoretically exactingly, in groups of interlocking threes. From the Bowen Center Web site:

“It [a triangle] is considered the building block or “molecule” of larger emotional systems because a triangle is the smallest stable relationship system. A two-person system is unstable because it tolerates little tension before involving a third person. A triangle can contain much more tension without involving another person because the tension can shift around three relationships. If the tension is too high for one triangle to contain, it spreads to a series of “interlocking” triangles.”

Spreading the tension can stabilize a system, but nothing gets resolved.

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Rituals Through Time and Space

Rituals Through Time and Space

Why Go Directly to Cinco, Start With Dos

“Rituals have the power to mark
or to move us
through transitions.”
— Rabbi Roni Handler
Prayers from the Heart

Evan Imber-Black has written the following “working definition of ritual”:

Rituals are coevolved symbolic acts that include not only the ceremonial aspects of the actual presentation of the ritual, but the process of preparing for it as well.

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The Last Quarter: Part II – The Solution

The Last Quarter: Part II – The Solution

Meaning Making and Reinvestment

‘And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age;’
— Rabbi Alvin I. Fine

Previously on the FamilyFocusedSolutions.com blog, we were exploring a colleague’s struggle to ”do this work [of self-differentiation] in the last quarter [of one’s life].” How to make meaning from the multiple losses of people, resources, function and sense of purpose? How to respond when in the face of illness, death, disability and “cut offs,” “one’s world gets relationally more narrow”?

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The Family Relationship Consultant

The Family Relationship Consultant

Learning and Doing

“How long can we go on being angry?”
— Elie Wiesel

Relationships matter. We all belong to families whose emotional connections greatly impact our lives. The behavior of any member of a family affects every other member in some way. We exist in our relationships and our inescapable connection to our family of origin.

Families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation. The family system resides in the self as much as the self resides in the family system. Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) understands family functioning and behavior as arising from an emotional system that is a universal feature of all living things.

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Individuation and Togetherness

Individuation and Togetherness

A plea for peaceful coexistence

There is no differentiation without connection,
no autonomy without healthy interdependence
(or as Michael Kerr wrote:
…differentiation of self and togetherness
are two distinct, counterbalancing life forces
that can operate as a working team.)

(N.B. see author’s notes below)

In response to my blog post On Differentiation: The Mindfulness of Murray Bowen, Bonnie Hall wrote:

Ron, I really like your succinct explanation of the togetherness and individuality forces. I have a question about this that I’d appreciate feedback on: Bowen believed these two forces to be “equally intense.” I’ve often wondered about the “equal” part. If they are equal, then why is the individuality force the one that needs the attention (hence also called the differentiating force)? It is hard to differentiate out of the togetherness force, not the individuality force, right?

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Bowen Family Systems Coaching


Bowen Family Systems Coaching with Ronald B Cohen, MD is the treatment of choice for complicated relationship problems and intergenerational conflicts. Include the whole family in resolving and improving what is going on right NOW! When the entire family works to make the difficult journey together, the results are almost magical.
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Why Ronald B Cohen, MD?


If you are experiencing family relationship problems and distress, don’t treat all therapists alike. Look for a Family Therapist who has had specific training, is comfortable with emotional intensity and will offer clear direction to help resolve identified problems. Ronald B. Cohen, MD works with the whole family in a manner that can save you time and be more cost effective than equal doses of individual therapy.
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For Mental Health Professionals


I offer both individual coaching and a consultation group to help facilitate the acquisition and further development of knowledge and expertise in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Coaching for the enhancement of clinical efficacy, productivity and satisfaction. If this is something you want to do professionally, and especially if you have not had significant training and experience in working with family dynamics and relationships, then experiential learning by doing is the best way to go.
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