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Module A: Basic Course in Bowen Family Systems Theory

This course teaches systems thinking and the practice of it. Systems thinking broadens our perspective, enhances our objectivity, and lessens blame on others. An important area of study in this course is our emotional interdependency on our family members and our multigenerational family system which will throw light on how we can function more effectively in our family and significant relationships.

Bowen theory provides a comprehensive framework for the conceptualization of clients’ problems and a road map for treatment strategies. Hence, it is of great use to helping professionals. The instructor will also share personal examples of applying the theory in her daily life and clinical work and everyday practical scenarios that illustrate it. Living the theory in one’s own life is an essential aspect of the study.


Dilemmas that you might be facing

Our relationships with others can be full of puzzles and dilemmas.

  • You are annoyed with your partner or even hate each other, but you cannot live without each other.
  • You have tried your uttermost to help the less adequate member of your family, only to find him /her more and more dependent on you! You are at breaking point. Yet, you fear disaster if you withdraw your support for this helpless person. You feel trapped and helpless.
  • You take great care not to follow your parents’ footsteps and avoid committing their mistakes, only to find that your child is still suffering.

The pandemic with the concomitant impact on social relationships, job insecurities, and political instabilities pose further challenges to our peace of mind and connection with others.


About Bowen theory

Bowen theory provides a comprehensive framework about human behaviour, (especially our automatic emotional reactions to others). It offers strategies to deal with interpersonal difficulties and ways to manage self. Differentiation of self is the cornerstone of the theory. It is the capacity to undertake thoughtful and responsible actions, and maintain meaningful connections even under emotional pressure. It is an essential quality for problem-solving and resilience.

Bowen theory helps us make sense of our daily life dilemmas and learn practical ways of solving life problems. It also facilitates the conceptualization of clinical cases which greatly improves therapeutic outcomes. Visit sickchirpse.com to know more.

Course Objectives

  • To provide an overview of the basic concepts of the Bowen theory
  • To enhance awareness and application of systems thinking to our life
  • To facilitate participants to learn to define self, and to practice being a “responsible self” in relationships
  • To facilitate conceptualization of clinical cases

Course Content

  • Family as an emotional system and an emotional unit –
  • Chronic and acute anxiety
  • The two life forces – the force towards togetherness and the force towards individuality – “Why do I have to follow your way?  Can’t I have my own say and my own way of life?”
  • The guidance systems for human
  • The eight emotional processes –
    • Differentiation of self,
    • Triangles,
    • Nuclear Family Emotional Process,
    • Family Projection Process,
    • Multigenerational Transmission Process,
    • Emotional Cut-off, Sibling position and,
    • Societal Emotional Process
  • Defining a self in the systems and learning to think system
  • Introduction to doing research of one’s family of origin and drawing family diagram

Course Details

Course Code:   BC 56/23 (English)
Date & Time:  Jan 13, 14 & 15, 2023 (Fri, Sat, Sun) 
9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Total: 18 hours
Fee: HKD $4,000  (COF Membership: HKD $3,800)
Venue: Hybrid ( Zoom + in-person attendance)
Target: Helping professionals and anyone interested in personal and family betterment
Instructor: Ms. Berenice Lee
Language: English 



Ms. Berenice Lee     M. Counselling

Berenice first learned about Bowen family systems theory in her Master of Counselling course in Australia in 2006. She has been an active participant in various courses, workshops and conferences with ISSFI since 2010. She is a member of the ISSFI Circle of Friends (COF) Think Tank right from the start and has helped to organize programs for the Circle of Friends and Bowen Theory Conferences in many ways.


Berenice holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts in American Literature and Culture and Master of Counselling. She specializes in marital and family relationship counseling, parental guidance, personal coaching, psychotherapy for individuals, and workplace dynamics. She has a private practice in Hong Kong and uses Bowen theory as her framework that a person’s understanding of the effects of reciprocity will bring about a significant change for one’s whole family and the workplace.


Please contact ISSFI at issfi@isshk.org if you are interested in this course when there is no upcoming course yet. 


You may download the application form as below, or proceed for online enrollment. 

Click here for application form in word format
Click here for application form in PDF format

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