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50th Symposium on Family Theory and Family Psychotherapy
November 1-2nd, 2013

Recordings of the Symposium are available as an audio MP3 set. Please order online or contact the Center at or 202-965-4400 to reserve your DVD set.

Distinguished Guest Lecturer: Nathan A. Fox, PhD
Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Human Development at the University of Maryland College Park.

Professor Fox has completed research on the biological bases of social and emotional behavior, developing methods for assessing brain activity in infants and young children during tasks designed to elicit a range of emotions. His work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and he was awarded a MERIT award for his research program examining the social and emotional development of young children. Fox has served as associate editor of the journals Developmental Psychology and Psychophysiology and as editor of the journal Infant Behavior and Development. He is currently associate editor of the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

His research shows that childhood temperament shapes the manner in which individuals perceive their surroundings, which influences their social interactions in a reciprocal manner and eventual social and mental health outcomes. Temperament also shapes vital cognitive processes, such as attention and certain executive processes which provide the foundation from which children perceive and respond to social cues in the environment. He will also tie his research findings to the significant contributions that Dr. Kagan has made to understanding of the biology of individual differences.

Please read an article by Dr. Fox entitled "Temperament and the Emergence of Anxiety Disorders".



Welcome and Introduction —  Anne S. McKnight, EdD

Psychological Symbiosis Revisited — Daniel V. Papero, PhD, MSSW
The publication of Dr. Bowen’s annual project reports at the NIMH has led me to revisit the idea of psychological symbiosis, a central idea in his original formulations. This talk would review this idea in his earliest writings and discuss its relevance to current thinking and clinical practice.

Variations in Differentiation of Self and Physiological Reactivity in One Family —  Victoria Harrison, MA
This presentation compares levels and patterns of anxiety between parents and three children using measures of physiological reactivity. Differences in degrees and duration of anxiety, as well as patterns of interaction, suggest variation in differentiation of self in the siblings.

Panel Discussion


Gene x Environment: The Impact of Family Emotional Process on Child Development —  Anne S. McKnight, EdD
Most current research on child development is centered on the examination of gene x environment which examines how the environment, especially the social environment, has an epigenetic influence on the development of the child. This epigenetic research will be examined through the lens of Bowen's concept of the family projection process and the formation of differentiation of self in the child.

The Reciprocity between Parents and Their Child's Mental Health Treatment Program —  Jennifer A. Brown, MSW
Dr. Bowen observed that mental health treatment programs and interventions, even if psychologically sound, can add to the impairment of a child through perpetuating a “fix the child” project. Nuances of this process are revealed in data from a qualitative research project with a sample of 14 sets of parents who have an adolescent in a day hospital treatment program.

Panel Discussion


Temperament in Children and the Emergence of Social Competence - Part I & II  —  Nathan A. Fox, PhD
Infants are born with personalities. Some display heightened reactions to novelty while others are more calm or positive in their responses. These individual differences lay the foundation for personality and the emergence of social competence. I will review the nature of temperament and its role in social development and will focus on one such temperament, behavioral inhibition, as an example of how temperament shapes adaptive and sometimes maladaptive social responses.

Panel Discussion


Systems, Maternal Care, and Development of Self — Robert J. Noone, PhD
The nature/nurture interplay that contributes to individual differences in functioning has undergone a revolution in recent years. A systems conceptual framework is necessary to integrate the rapidly expanding knowledge related to the development of the individual.

Difficulty in Resolving Child Focus —  David S. Hargrove, PhD
Anxiety among parents decreases when it is projected onto children. The reduction of anxiety reinforces the process, making it more difficult to ameliorate. Social and institutional focus on children supports the projection process.

Panel Discussion


Bowen Theory: A Potential Alternative to the DSM  — Randall T. Frost, MDiv
The fifth edition of the DSM has recently gone to press amid widespread concern about its scientific validity. Bowen theory offers a potential alternative to the DSM and to the medical model of mental illness upon which it rests.

Murray Bowen’s Legacy and the Archives Project  — Joanne Bowen, PhD
Murray Bowen left one of the largest and most comprehensive archive collections of its kind, including professional papers, recorded presentations, interviews, and clinical sessions, and correspondence dating from the 1930’s. This presentation will describe efforts to archive his legacy.

Panel Discussion


Homelessness through the Lens of Bowen Theory — John Bell, MDiv
Bowen theory can serve as a framework for thinking about and working with individuals who are homeless. Excerpts from an interview will highlight one person's effort to bridge cutoff and leave a homeless shelter.

Self-Regulation in the Family System: A Study of Dieting to Goal Weight —  Laura Havstad, PhD
Self-regulation is a basic variable in Bowen theory's concept of differentiation of self and also an increasingly important focus of research in psychology and mental health. A family evaluation study of dieting to goal weight documents covariance between family emotional process and self-regulation.

Panel Discussion


Bowen Theory and Business Leadership  — Erik Thompson, MA
This case study illustrates the application of Bowen theory and business leadership, emphasizing the emotional leadership of the chief executive, the self-definition of the consultant, and the value of family of origin work in creating self-management within an executive team.

Goal Direction and Family Functioning —  Phillip Klever, MSW
Bowen theory provides a framework to understand variation in goal direction and its impact on functioning. A family longitudinal study that explores the relationship between goal direction and family functioning will be presented.

Panel Discussion

Code Name Image Price Availability  
DVD-AS-50-Set 50th Annual Symposium DVD Set   $300.00  
AS-50-13-MP3 50th Annual Symposium MP3   $125.00  

For more information, please contact The Bowen Center at 202-965-4400 or