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4th Family Systems Symposium
Transforming Family Systems: Navigating Change and Growth
June 22, 2024 (Sat)
9:30 am – 5:30 pm

A) 9:30 am – 12:00 noon
Presentations (Online) by Keynote Speaker, Ms. Kathleen Cauley, MEd, LMFT

Presentation 1
Both Ends of the Leash: Triangles and Pets in the Family

The focus of the presentation will include some theory, and will cover the role of the therapist in their own family and in the clinical setting. Triangles with pets at home, work, and in a hospice setting will describe what the animals can teach us about self-regulation and observation. Focus on differentiation of self will be highlighted.
This presentation will cover how one person can make a difference.

Presentation 2
Triangles and Stepfamilies

Self-management by the therapist is of utmost importance when working with stepfamilies. This day will include information about stepfamilies through the lens of Bowen Theory. Awareness of the interlocking triangles in the consultant’s own family and in clinical families will be included.  With Differentiation of self as a guide, the complex terrain of stepfamily triangles can be less daunting.

Keynote Speaker

Kathleen Cotter Cauley, MEd, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Florida, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and has a private practice in Falls Church, Virginia. She joined the Bowen Center faculty in 2012 and chairs the Social Media and Outreach Committees there.

Ms. Cauley worked with Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1972-1985, as an adoption caseworker, therapist, and deputy director of a branch office. She received her master’s degree in counselor education at the University of Pittsburgh in 1977. In 1980, while at Catholic Charities, she sought out a supervisor who had trained at the Bowen Center. She attended the training program at the Western Pennsylvania Family Center in the 1980s.

Ms. Cauley had a private practice in Tampa, Florida, where she lived, 1985-2001. She continues to work in this practice in a remote capacity. She was involved in founding the Florida Family Research Network with other Bowen colleagues and serves on their advisory board. Ms. Cauley was on the faculty of the Extraordinary Leadership Seminars, 2003-2016. She continues to coach in the Systems Leadership Seminar with people who attended three years in the Extraordinary Leadership Seminars.

She has been a member of the review board dealing with the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church for the Diocese of Saint Petersburg, Florida, since 2002. Ms. Cauley was also a member of the Maryland Province Jesuit review board, 2006-2015. She has volunteered for Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. since 1990.

Contact Information: kcauley@thebowencenter.org

B) 1:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Afternoon presentations & Panel Discussions (Cantonese)

1:40 pm Functional Facts – What Does that Have to Do with Better Differentiation of Self?

Our daily life is coloured by varying degree of emotions which add to the subjectivity of our experiences in personal functioning and interpersonal encounters.  Working on the subjective experiences of the client and identifying the “whys” of the client’s feelings constitute an important part of the therapeutic work in conventional therapeutic approaches.

Bowen theory takes a different direction. Bowen theory is about finding the objective facts in our subjective world. It is about studying the facts of functioning of our relationship system which is often filled with subjective experiences.  The ability to identify functional facts helps us to see the reciprocity of interactions, thus learning how one involves in the interaction chain, facilitating the willingness to look into oneself and to have self-change.  Functional facts are indicators of self and the intensity of the emotional process of the family system.  This presentation will explain with examples what functional facts are, and the differences between facts, functional facts and feelings.  The presenter will also share case examples of how to identify functional facts and how such contributes to therapeutic effectiveness, and better differentiation of self (equivalent to emotional maturity).  One big challenge is seeing but not seeing functional facts.  The presenter will also address this “observational blindness” in many of us.

Mrs. Peggy CHAN (陳蘇陳英女士), MEd, RSW
Approved Supervisor & Certified Marriage and Family Therapist, HKMFTA
Fellow & Approved Counselling Supervisor, HKPCA
Certified Social Work Specialist (HK Social Workers Association)

Mrs. Peggy Chan is a marriage and family therapist, and has been the Director of Programme of ISS Family Institute of the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch since 2002. She received her training in Social Work and Counselling in Hong Kong and Canada respectively. She started her family systems theory training in early 1990s in Vancouver, and attended 5 years of the Postgraduate Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Its Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington DC. from 2008-2013. Since then, she continues the study of Bowen theory at the Bowen Center’s Research Seminar Group. She was a plenary speaker of the 1st International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory, Pittsburgh, U.S.A. She was the Coordinator of the 2nd International Conference in Bowen Family Systems Theory held in Hong Kong in May 2018. Besides conducting training programmes on Bowen theory in Hong Kong, she has presented at conferences and workshops in China, Taiwan, and U.S.A. Working closely with non-governmental organizations, she conducts programmes for parents of school children and parents of substance abusers based on Bowen theory. She has more than 20 years of counselling families, couples and individuals, and training professionals. Her areas of specialization include marital and women‘s issues, sexual issues, loss and grief, parent-child relationship difficulties, and cultural adaptation. will also address this “observational blindness” in many of us.

2:05 pm Preserving Integrity, Protecting Children: Insights from Bowen Family System Theory in the Challenge of Mandatory Reporting

The impending enactment of mandatory reporting legislation for child abuse has raised concerns among social workers regarding its implementation and impact on their professional practice. Drawing upon the fundamental principles of Bowen family systems theory, this presentation delves into the intricate interplay among clients, social workers, and the legal system within the context of mandatory reporting. Through this exploration, participants will gain valuable insights into effectively managing anxiety related to the bill’s implementation, navigating ethical dilemmas, upholding professional integrity, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, and fostering differentiation of self as social worker. By applying Bowen theory’s theoretical concepts, the audience will acquire practical strategies to navigate the challenges posed by mandatory reporting, while simultaneously safeguarding the well-being of children and families.

Ms. Tobey TAM (譚穎芯女士)
AAMFT Clinical Fellow, CCoun (HKPCA), CMFT (HKMFT)

Tobey became acquainted with the Bowen family system theory during university years. Subsequently, she pursued several courses at ISSFI, deepening her understanding and interest in this theory. Appreciating that the Bowen Family System Theory is a theory of wisdom that not only helps oneself but also assists others, in which she strives to practice the theory in daily life and own clinical work. She specializes in personal growth, trauma healing, marital struggles, mental health issues, grief issues, as well as family or interpersonal relationship difficulty. She has over 16 years of experience in family counseling, having formerly worked as Senior Social Worker in an Integrated Family Service Centre and as a part-time social work fieldwork supervisor at the University of Hong Kong. Currently, she is studying courses at the Bowen Center in the United States to further enhance her understanding and application of the Bowen Family System Theory.


2:50 pm A Caregiver Defining Self when Faced with an Elderly Parent’s Critical Medical Condition

When faced with an elderly parent’s critical medical condition, the caregiving adult child often asks themselves questions such as, “What more can I do? How am I going to cope?” Families usually fail to plan for such emergencies and are caught off guard when a crisis strikes. 

Bowen family system theory’s concept of differentiation of self, the ability to be guided by rationality and to act according to one’s well-grounded principles, beliefs and values, is a crucial factor that affects how the caregiver perceives the relational factors and responds during this critical period. The caregiver’s capacity for emotional maturity in the face of disaster depends on their capability to separate thoughts from reactive feelings. Recognizing how one’s level of differentiation interacts with the anxious responses of others may help the caregiver process their emotions, absorb and understand information, and make rational choices.

Sharing her personal experience, the presenter will illustrate the process of defining self in a situation of heightened emotionality and great anxiety when an elderly parent’s life is at stake. By understanding the interplay between relationship variables, physiological stress, anxiety, and individual reactivity, the caregiver may be better able to provide thoughtful, evidence-based care. The increased objectivity and clear communication with medical staff can lead to more informed decision-making and better outcomes for the elderly parent. 

Rita WONG (黃佩文女士), MSocSc (Counselling), RSW

Certified Member of Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association (HKPCA)

Rita Wong is a Registered Social Worker who has worked in the elderly sector for over twenty years. Rita Wong continued in-depth study of Bowen family systems theory after she finished her Master of Social Science (Counselling). She applies the theory in daily life and clinical settings.

2:55 pm Panel Discussion
3:25 pm Break

3:40 pm The Unheard Voices of the Non-ADHD Siblings - Exploring the Lived Experiences of Adults with Siblings with ADHD in Hong Kong Families

ADHD is a chronic disease that can have far-reaching impacts on family dynamics and relationships across different stages of family life. While the experiences of individuals with ADHD and their parents have been extensively studied, the perspectives of non-ADHD siblings remain largely unheard, particularly within the context of Hong Kong families.
Bowen family system theory posits family as an emotional unit and accentuates the effect of sibling position in the shaping of one’s character and behavior. This qualitative study aimed to explore the experiences of the non-ADHD siblings in Hong Kong and their perceived impacts on family interactions and relationships under specific Chinese cultural context.

Ms. Livia CHEUK (卓美蘭女士), 

Ms. Cheuk is a dedicated front-line social worker with extensive experience providing counselling services to families and individuals. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Family Counseling and Family Education (MAFCFE), where she demonstrated outstanding academic performance as a Dean’s List recipient.
Recognizing the transformative power of Bowen theory, Livia conscientiously applies its principles in herself and her practice, helping individuals and families navigate challenges, improve interaction effectiveness, and build stronger relationships. She understands the complexities of family dynamics and aims to enhance her clients’ capacity to create positive change and achieve more fulfilling lives.
MAFCFE (Master of Arts Programme in Family Counselling and Family Education 家庭輔導及家庭教育文學碩士課程)


4:05 pm Less is More – Exploring the Essence of Minimalism ("断舍离") through the Lens of Bowen Theory

In this presentation, we delve into the principles of Minimalism as a lifestyle philosophy deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Emphasizing simplicity, functionality, and the elimination of clutter, Minimalism aligns with traditional Japanese aesthetics to foster serene and harmonious environments. This philosophy extends beyond the mere reduction of physical possessions, advocating for a mindful and focused approach to living that prioritizes experiences and relationships over materialistic pursuits. Our exploration seeks to examine the essence of Japanese Minimalism through the lens of Bowen Theory, specifically focusing on the concepts of separateness. By doing so, we aim to illuminate how this philosophy not only influences art, design, and architecture globally but also promotes a sustainable, efficient, and deeply connected way of life for people to achieve better differentiation of self. This presentation will provide insights into the transformative potential of Minimalism, offering a comprehensive understanding of its impact on both personal well-being and environmental connection

Dr. Renee CHIU (趙千嵐博士), PhD, RSW

Dr. Renee Chiu is a registered social worker and family counsellor who is currently serving as a lecturer in the Department of Social Work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Chiu is well-known for her expertise in family counselling and her use of Bowen theory in clinical practice. She is also a member of the teaching faculty at the ISS Family Institute of the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch. Her commitment to the field is exemplified by her membership as an Associate Fellow, Accredited Supervisor, and Certified Counsellor of the Hong Kong Professional Counseling Association (HKPCA).
Dr. Chiu strives for professional development and continuously integrates creative methods in counselling and training to help individuals and families confront issues such as mental health concerns and trauma.


4:30 pm Sharenting: How Much Is Too Much?

In the 21st century, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, permeating every aspect. Sharenting has become more prevalent. It refers to the practice of parents publicizing large amount of sensitive content about their children on social media platforms, e.g. by posting photos, videos or sharing personal stories. In so doing, parents can stay connected with the outside world and gain community support. However, sharenting may have undesirable impact on children, e.g. shaping these children’s digital identities and intrusion of their rights and individual boundaries.

In this presentation, we will understand the phenomenon of Sharenting from the perspective of Bowen theory. The presenter will discuss how both the parents and children’s differentiation of self, family emotional processes and the societal emotional processes come into play in this phenomenon of sharenting. She will also discuss insights on how to be mindful parents in the digital age without crossing the line into over-sharenting.

Ms. WONG Wai Man(黃惠文女士), M.Soc.Sc. in Counselling

Ms. Wong is currently a school counsellor. She first learned about Bowen theory during her Master of Counselling course in Hong Kong. After that, she dedicated herself to studying Bowen theory and joined the Professional Training Programme in Bowen Family Systems Theory & Therapy at ISS Family Institute. Bowen Theory has had a positive impact on her, developing her systemic thinking in understanding her family of origin and her relationships with others. She has a special interest in applying Bowen theory in her counseling work and training in various settings, including schools and churches.

Ms. Wong holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons) in Counselling and Psychology in Hong Kong Shue Yan University, and a Master of Social Sciences in Counselling with Distinction from Hong Kong Baptist University. Her areas of specialization include parent-child relationship, family issues, cultural adaptation and personal growth for individuals.


4:55 pm Panel Discussion

5:30 pm End

Fee (whole day) :

Regular: HK$800 /person
COF: HK$760 /person
Group of two persons: HK$700 /person

Student: HK$400 /person (Please upload relevant student ID document through online enrollment form)


Hybrid (online + in-person)

Venue: Multi- function Room, 7/F, Building 19W, 19 Science Park West Avenue, Hong Kong Science Park, Pak Shek Kok, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong (香港沙田白石角香港科學園科技大道西19號19W大樓7樓多功能廳) 

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