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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.


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 44/20 (Cantonese)
Date & Time:  Sep 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct 13 & 20, 2020 (Tuesday)
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
(6 evenings, total: 18 hours)
Fee: HKD $3,900  (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 interersted in personal and family betterment
Instructor: Mrs. Peggy Chan


Course Code:   BC 45/20 (Cantonese)
Date & Time:  Nov 5, 12, 19, 26 & Dec 3 & 10, 2020 (Thursday)
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
(6 evenings, total: 18 hours)
Fee: HKD $3,900  (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 interersted in personal and family betterment
Instructor: Ms. Berenice Lee




Mrs. Peggy Chan

Director of Programme
ISS Family Institute
International Social Service Hong Kong Branch

Mrs. Peggy Chan started her study of Bowen theory in the early 1990s in Vancouver.  She attended five years (2008-2013) of the Postgraduate Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Its Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington DC, U.S.A.  Mrs. Chan has since then continued her study of Bowen theory in its  Research Seminar group and attends its conferences regularly. She is a member of the Bowen Center’s Network Program for the Advancement of Bowen Theory, collaborating with other Bowen theory training centers around the world to promote better teaching and learning of Bowen theory.  Mrs. Chan is a plenary speaker of the First International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory, Pittsburgh, U.S.A., in August 2015.  She is Coordinator of the 2nd International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory held on May 17-19, 2018 in Hong Kong, a landmark event attended by more than 300 attendees and 37 speakers from more than 14 countries and cities.


Mrs. Peggy Chan has her training as a social worker (B.Soc.Sc., HKU), counselor (M.Ed., U. of Toronto) before her family systems training. She has over 20 years of experience in counseling individuals, couples and families, and the training of professionals. Her areas of specialization include marital and women‘s issues, sexual issues, loss and grief, parent-child relationship difficulties, and cultural adaptation. She is an Adjunct  Assistant Professor of The University of Hong Kong, teaching and supervising M.Soc.Sc. (Counselling) students since 2002. She is Associate Fellow and Approved Supervisor of the Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association and Approved Supervisor of the Hong Kong Marriage and Family Therapy Association.


Mrs. Peggy Chan has devoted herself to promoting the systemic way of seeing relationships, and the applications of Bowen theory in clinical practice, work situations, and family. She has conducted many training programmes on Bowen theory in Hong Kong, as well as presented at conferences and workshops in China, Taiwan, and U.S.A. She has developed a parenting program based on Bowen theory to the local Chinese community and also for parents of substance abusers through partnering with a local non-governmental organization. Mrs. Chan is interested in working with parents to develop greater emotional maturity and better connection with children.


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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