Murray Bowen's Family Systems Theory

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When looking at family systems, you must begin by looking at Murray Bowen’s family systems theory and “his views on the eight interlocking forces that shape family function,” (Haefner, 2014). Within Bowen’s family psychotherapy research, he noted that “family patterns and problems often repeat over generations, he also noted that families make up their own emotional systems, and within these systems they try to maintain stability and reduce conflict,” (Haefner, 2014). The eight interlocking forces noted by Bowen through (Haefner, 2014)
1. Differentiation of self, which notes that the family is the primary impact of a person’s personal development.
2. Triangle which is primarily made up of father-mother and child and these are in continual
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Sibling position which was developed by William Toman, in which Bowen looks at whether a child is the oldest (Leadership) youngest (follower) and how sibling position is linked into family dynamics and parental relationships.
8. Societal regression- how a family’s emotional stress can be influenced by the stresses of their outside environment.
The foundations for a child’s development begins not only in the child’s first year, but also while they are in utero. A child’s development can also be influenced by how much the parents are contributing to the development of the child. A couple that interacts well with one another as well as with the child can have “positive impacts on a child’s cognitive, language and motor development, this can also positively benefit the couple relationship, and the parent-infant relationship,” (Parfitt, Pike, & Ayers, 2013). A parent’s especially a mother’s mental health can greatly impact a child’s development if a mother is less stressed the will be more comfortable around the child creating a better mother-child attachment which also promotes language development. (Parfitt, Pike, & Ayers, 2013). If a father’s is positively involved in a child’s life early on that the child will have a greater reduction in cognitive delays, this is especially true in boys (Parfitt, Pike, & Ayers, 2013). Another positive key in a child’s development comes from the sibling relationships. Siblings help a child learn social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral
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Neglect affects a child’s “cognitive, and language development in addition it can lead to academic delays, problems with their peers, it can lead to mental health problems and aggression or other behavioral problems,” ( A child in an unhealthy family system may experience a lack in nutrient, a lack of supervision which can lead to emotional, behavioral, and social delays. This is also known as “failure to thrive,” ( When a family system fails, children have trouble attaching to the caregiver this can cause emotional distress, insecurities and trust issues. ( Poor family systems, and children’s inability to development in all areas of growth is linked by poor
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