Bowen Center Store Front | Search | Your Account | Product List | Basket Contents | Check Out
Sign In

Family Systems Journal
   Current Issue
   Subscribe to the Journal
   Current Subscribers
   Journal Articles
     Volume 14.1
     Volume 13.2
     Volume 13.1
     Volume 12.2
     Volume 12.1
     Volume 11.2
     Volume 11.1
     Volume 10.2
     Volume 10.1
     Volume 9.2
     Volume 9.1
     Volume 8.2
     Volume 8.1
     Volume 7.2
     Volume 7.1
     Volume 6.2
     Volume 6.1
     Volume 5.2
     Volume 5.1
     Volume 4.2
     Volume 4.1
     Volume 3.2
     Volume 3.1
     Volume 2.2
     Volume 2.1
     Volume 1.2
     Volume 1.1
Audio Lectures
Kerr Lecture Series
Special Topics Interviews
The Basic Series-Bowen
Bowen/Kerr Interview Series
Annual Symposia
Spring Conferences
New and Recent Releases
Materiales en Español

Developing a Systems Model for Family Assessment
  Quantity in Basket: None
Code: DJ 13.2(4)
Price: $9.50
  This article is for individual use. For volume pricing or permission to distribute for educational purposes, please email or call (202) 965-4400.
Developing a Systems Model for Family Assessment
Daniel V. Papero, PhD, MSSW

In personal conversations, Murray Bowen often floated the idea of a system of family diagnosis or assessment. He believed that it would be possible to create a family diagnostic system that could be used alongside or even in place of the DSM. In the book Family Evaluation, Michael Kerr proposed a general schema for such an assessment. Although several attempts have been made to informally follow the Kerr proposal, none has been extensively tested and validated.

In 2011-2012, the NIMH began development of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), “…a research framework designed for studying the full range of human behavior from normal to abnormal based on biology, behavior, and context.” (NIMH RDoC Publications accessed September 28, 2017) The RDoC moves away from the categorical classification model of the DStM to a dimensional or continuum model. It currently comprises five domains, or areas of functional continua, and proposes two additional ones. The current domains are: (1) negative valence systems, (2) positive valence systems, (3) cognitive systems, (4) systems for social processes and, (5) arousal/modulatory systems. Two proposed additional domains include neurodevelopment and environment.

The RDoC use of dimensions led the author to consider a new approach to family assessment that differs from the Kerr model. Beginning with Bowen’s conceptualization of the family as a system and his focus on the functioning of that system as it faces adaptive challenges and the accompanying anxiety and stress, it becomes possible to develop a dimensional model of family system functioning. That model includes five dimensions ranging from optimal to dysfunctional: resourcefulness, tension management, connectedness and integration, systems thinking, and goal structure. At this point, a systems model for assessing family functioning remains a preliminary proposed schema. Further development will require the creation of a working group to develop, refine, and test the sub-dimensions within each domain, a process not yet begun.

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