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.

All families have a set of rules, roles and relationship requirements. None of us can ever completely emotionally leave the family we grew up in, nor do we have a choice as to whether or not we deal with them.

As we all struggle with balancing emotional closeness and distance, all families can benefit from relationship coaching and consultation. The goal is to change your relationships with other members of your family of origin to improve your life and your family’s life regardless of what anybody else does. If you change yourself, you fundamentally change the nature of your relationships. Taking responsibility for what you can take responsibility for and attending to your needs in the context of intimate relationships opens the door to facilitating healing of the entire family.

Coaching and Relationship Consulting based on Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) involves joint observation, investigation and research about present day and historical family functioning. The process of self-differentiation is built upon ownership of one’s emotional reactivity. A primary prerequisite for engaging in the process is to develop realistic expectations when moving toward changing your part in your family’s dance.

You are learning how to deal with differences
without losing connections.

Bowen preferred the “Coaching” nomenclature because his theoretical underpinnings, process of interaction, and desired outcomes were so The Family Relationship Consultant by Ronald Cohendifferent from conventional psychotherapy that the term therapy did not capture all of its essential aspects. The journey of self-differentiation may be described as “Growing in the ability to be fully responsible for my own life while being committed to growing closer to those I love.”

Autonomy and emotional connection become congruent and not adversarial.

The “work” itself is an individual and somewhat solitary undertaking that emphasizes self-directed effort. Learn to observe non-reactively the relationship patterns in your original family and explore your role in these patterns. Strive to bring your behavior more in line with your deepest beliefs, even if this means upsetting family members by disobeying family “rules.”

You can make change in your family relationships even without the participation of other family members. If you want your life to be better you have to do the work.
Remember, you are completely in control of your process and end up in a better place whether or not anybody else in the family signs on.

The lives of our children and our children’s children are deeply affected by how we live our lives. Healing current relationships avoids leaving a damaging legacy for our descendants.

Consultation with a well trained Bowen Family Systems Theory “Coach” can help develop a solid self in the wider historical context of our most important relationships.

Best of luck on your unfolding journey of a lifetime.

Please share your thoughts and experiences concerning the primacy of relationships in your life in the “Leave a Reply” box below. To request more information or contact me directly for any reason, please click here. If you found this post helpful, please don’t keep it a secret. You are encouraged to click on the buttons below and share this article with your own networks. Looking forward to continuing the conversation.


Ronald B Cohen, MD, PC Ronald B. Cohen, MD
Bowen Family Systems Coach
1 Barstow Road, Suite P-10
Great Neck, NY 11021
(516) 466-7530

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  1. James Cliff on June 18, 2015 at 8:17 pm said:

    Thanks for this concise piece of writing. It really helped to support a framework for a piece of family therapy I did the other day. Dan Papero appears to be coming here to the South Island of July and your writings seem to be stimulating me to attend his seminar. Thanking you from afar….

    James Cliff

    • Ronald B Cohen, MD on June 24, 2015 at 1:57 pm said:

      Hi James,

      You are very welcome. One of my most over used Papero quotes is “Any set of parents is merely the current embodiment of forces or processes that have been active for many generations before them”


      — Ron

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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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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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