You Can Get There From Here

You Can Get There From Here

Bowen Family Systems Coaching for All Occasions

“If you’re just going to therapy to express your unhappiness,
stay home and talk to a friend for free.”
— Betty Carter

In response to my blog “Houston, We Have a Problem: The Failure to Launch”, Diana Gomez wrote: “Great article!!!!! How would you distinguish when you are providing COACHING vs. THERAPY?” To which I responded, “Great question!!!!!”

I define Bowen Family Systems Coaching as “family therapy from the individual’s point of view.” The goal of Bowen Family Systems Coaching is to be productive in life, not just successful in therapy. This is accomplished, as best one can, by developing a unique one-to-one relationship with each and every member of your extended family.

Bowen Family Systems Coaching focuses on real world relationships and not diagnoses. The majority of the productive work is done by the individual, outside of therapy sessions, in the context of meaningful, long-term family relationships.

Bowen Family Systems Coaching is distinguished by:

  1. Positive interactions with the most motivated and available family member
  2. Avoiding blame of the ”identified patient”
  3. Addressing behaviors rather than motivation
  4. Acknowledging the importance of relationships and social interactions
  5. Understanding the individual’s issues in the context of family distress
  6. Non-reactive interactions rather than emotional catharsis

Family relationships, especially with your parents, are not optional. If you haven’t resolved your relationships with the family you grew up in, it will be more difficult to sort out other social situations. There is no differentiation without connection, no autonomy without healthy emotional interdependence.

The process of Bowen Family Systems Coaching has three steps:

  1. Change your behavior in a planful, positive way.
  2. Prepare for the family’s “change-back” reaction.
  3. Respond with a healthier, more productive, self-differentiated approach.

Ronald B. Cohen, MD of Family Focused Solutions ( discusses how Bowen Family Systems Coaching works.The third step, maintaining the change in the face of push-back and negativity, is the hardest part. If one is successful, the family moves in a positive direction, and/or the individual is better prepared for the next step. Either way it is a win-win, no lose situation. The outcome of Bowen Family Systems Coaching is not dependent on the participation of anyone else. Developing skills to better deal with your own stuff helps you learn how to better deal with intimate partners, family, and friends, even if they avoid or reject the process.

Thankfully a little bit of effort and change goes a long way. Bowen Family Systems Coaching follows the “brief long-term” approach. The coach remains available to the individual, the entire family, and each of its subsystems in an ongoing fashion. Bowen Family Systems Coaching helps individuals learn how to solve problems in current relationships so as to avoid leaving a damaging legacy for future generations. Consultation with a well trained Bowen Family Systems Coach can provide more specific guidance and support ongoing change.

Please share your thoughts, questions, concerns and experiences concerning coaching in your family of origin in the “Leave a Reply” box below. To request more information and/or schedule an initial consultation, click here . If you found this post helpful, please don’t keep it a secret. You are encouraged to click on the buttons in the second to the right hand column at the bottom of the page 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. Mark Smith on October 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm said:

    Hi Ron,

    Once again you’ve synthesized some of the concepts of the theory in a helpful way. If someone were to focus on the concepts of Bowen Family Systems Coaching as outlined in your article and the three step process as you’ve described it, they would certainly gain perspective on themselves and their family…they would also learn some new things about what contributes to functioning well and what gets them stuck in life.

    • Ronald B Cohen, MD on October 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm said:

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your kind and supportive words. When people get stuck it’s usually because the script they are using has outlived its usefulness. It’s also important to note that the initially family response will most likely be negative. They may not welcome the new you. You are disrupting the homeostasis of your family system and it will push back. In his essay on Self-Differentiation, Bowen wrote, “There are three predictable steps in the family reaction to differentiation. They are:

      1. “You are wrong,” or some version of that;
      2. “Change back” which can be communicated in many different ways; and
      3. “If you do not, these are the consequences.”

      An important part of the process is to develop realistic expectations when moving toward changing your part in your family’s dance. Learn to observe non-reactively the relationship patterns in your original family and explore your role in these patterns. Getting unstuck means staying connected without taking on other peoples “stuff”



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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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