Welcome to the Bowen Theory Academy Website

Michael E Kerr, MD
President of the
Board of Directors

Psychiatrist Murray Bowen radically departed from all other theories of human behavior by applying systems thinking to human emotional functioning and behavior. Unlike general system theories, which also attempt to apply systems thinking to human behavior, Bowen family systems theory contains specific knowledge that describes how all families operate as emotional units. For example, triangles are the fundamental building blocks of an emotional system, the smallest stable unit. Such knowledge is essential for change, for developing a new way of thinking and associated actions that benefit the system as well as oneself.

Bowen theory is such a radical departure from cause-and-effect models of human behavior that people exposed to the idea predictably mix the two ways of thinking.  People do not easily comprehend that the processes described in an individual model    of human behavior can be incorporated into a systems theory, provided these processes are not viewed as causes; e.g. "intra-psychic causes" and "relationship causes", or "genetic causes" and "environmental causes".

Five long-term students of Bowen theory have founded the Bowen Theory Academy primarily to address the distinction between systems thinking and cause-and-effect thinking.  Letting go of individual, cause-and-effect thinking does not involve discarding centuries of important factual discoveries about human behavior, but incorporates them into a broader framework.  The five objectives and purposes of the Bowen Theory Academy listed below reflect the organization's overriding goal.

The specific objectives and purposes of the Bowen Theory Academy are:

- to educate the public about Bowen Family Systems Theory and its application to a variety of human problems;

- to maintain communication with professionals in the fields of science, mental health, medicine, the humanities and other  fields that deal with research in human development and behavior;

- to produce educational programs and materials about Bowen theory concepts and applications

- to make educational offerings available as resources to Bowen theory educational programs nationally and internationally

- to engage in other activities relating to educating the public about Bowen Family Systems Theory

Links to other sites offering programs in Bowen theory:

- Kansas City Center for Family and Organizational Systems


- Southern California Education and Training in Bowen Family Systems Theory