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Module A: Basic Course in Bowen Family Systems Theory

Why do we do things that we do?

Why is it that the things that I fear most, something that I try so hard to avoid, will occur even more strongly?

Why is it that my children cannot be like me, despite all my sacrifices and hard work to demonstrate good working habits?


Bowen family systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen, provides a comprehensive framework for understanding human behavior and relationships. It helps us understand the emotional processes of our family systems, the impact of our emotional interdependency on one another, and the automatic motional patterns of behavior amongst family members.


The theory provides a blueprint to lead a functional life and solve problems in our relationships, through knowledge of how the emotional system operates, and managing self effectively in our relationship systems. It is also helpful for conceptualization of clinical cases which greatly improves therapeutic outcomes.


Differentiation of self is the cornerstone of the theory.  It is the capacity to undertake thoughtful and responsible actions, even in the face of emotional pressure, and to maintain meaningful connections.  It is an essential quality for problem-solving, resilience, and functional interpersonal relationships at read the article.


The theory is useful to a wide variety of situations and settings such as work-place relationships, organizational management, mental health, church congregations, and pastoral care, besides family life.


  • To provide introduction to 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


  • Family as an emotional system
  • Chronic and acute anxiety
  • The two life forces – the force towards togetherness and the force towards individuality
  • 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 systems


Course Code:   BC 45/20 (Cantonese)
Date & Time:  Nov 26, Dec 3, 10, 17 & Jan 7 & 14, 2020 (Thursday)
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
(6 evenings, total: 18 hours)
Fee: HKD $4,000  (COF Membership: HKD $3,800)
Venue: International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, 6/F, Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, hong Kong.
Target: Helping professionals and anyone interested in personal and family betterment
Instructor: Ms. Berenice Lee, M. Counselling
Language: Cantonese supplemented with 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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