Faculty Works: Andrea Schara

Faculty Works: Kathy Wiseman

The Navigating Systems faculty publish a blog monthly on current topics and issues. The blog is a rich resource for provocative thinking. 

This book is Dr. Bowen's seminal work on family systems thinking. This book will be referred to often throughout the course. 

Published by Jason Aronson. 

"I’m more interested in thinking about thinking. That is what drives my interest.…

All these letters have principles in them. How does one stay so focused on one's principles for such a long period of time without wavering and without getting off track or going sideways rather than forward. That was the gist behind the title — Commitment to Principles."

Provided by the Murray Bowen Archives Project

Watch Murray Bowen live! Dr. Bowen was a pioneer in the use of the latest technology to record presentations, clinical sessions, and teaching tapes. Hundreds of tapes are included in the archival collection at the National Library of Medicine, yet there has been, to this point in time, no recording of Dr. Bowen available online. The Murray Bowen Archives Project is excited to be the first to make recordings of Dr. Bowen available online, on demand, and free of charge. Watch for new recordings to be posted on a regular basis.

Provided by the Murray Bowen Archives Project

Dr. Bowen produced 7 videos at the Georgetown Family Center known formally as the Basic Series and informally as the "chalk-talk teaching tapes".  These lectures are approximately one hour each and are available to purchase online. 

Published by the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family

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Other Works

If you work in any organization, you work in an anxious organization. There is no other kind. In fact, if you ever find an anxiety-free workplace the author's recommendation would be to start sending out resumes. But, there is good news. It takes only one person to break the cycle of excessive anxiety and turn a troubled organization completely around. The Anxious Organization empowers you to break the anxiety cycle in your workplace.

Today's leaders face increased individual and societal anxiety that affects their organizations. Unfortunately, their training has not provided them with any understanding or guidelines that show how to manage themselves in the emotional chaos and intensity.


Bowen family systems theory provides the needed understanding. It has proven itself enormously effective not only in families, but also in non-family groups as businesses, institutions, and congregations. Extraordinary Leadership examines organizations as emotional systems through the lens of Bowen theory. The types of questions addressed include: What is an emotional system? How do leaders handle themselves in stirred up organizations? What are high-level and low-level leaders? Do organizations need principles? What about difficult people? What is a relationship master? As the subtitle suggests, Extraordinary Leadership teaches leaders how to think systems and how that makes a difference.

Failure of Nerve is essential reading for all leaders, be they parents or presidents, corporate executives or educators, religious superiors or coaches, healers or generals, managers or clergy. Friedman's insights about our regressed, seatbelt society, oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today. 

Suspicious of the quick fixes and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, he argues for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership. His formula for success is more maturity, not more data; stamina, not technique; and personal responsibility, not empathy. 

The 2nd edition of this bestselling book helps you understand yourself by understanding your relationships. Drawing on Bowen family systems theory, the book explores each life stage to see predictable relationship patterns and make purposeful self-adjustments. The result is improved relationships and a sturdier self.

Have you ever swum in the ocean where there is a strong undertow? You may not notice the powerful current until you find youself struggling to stay afloat. Organizational anxiety works the same way. Hidden from the surface, it can undermine your effectiveness during the challenging times that inevitably confront every organization.


Leading a Business in Anxious Times looks at the workplace as an emotional system and introduces systems-based leadership, an approach to leading that is grounded in a well-tested theory of human behavior used for over fifty years by family therapists. The authors show that the same patterns of automatic behavior governing family relationship systems also affect business and have a profound impact on every business's success. This book invites individuals working at all levels of large and small businesses, nonprofits, and service organizations to embrace a new definition of leadership as a reciprocal relationship.


Readers will learn how the ability to lead any type of business organization directly relates to the capacity of its leaders to manage their own anxiety in the relationship system - to think clearly and take thoughtful action in the presence of anxious colleagues in order to minimize the crippling effects of anxiety in the company - and how this ability is affected by one's position in one's family of origin as well as one's family history. Using the stories of several successful business leaders - as well as the stories of the authors themselves - to illustrate the concepts introduced in the book, Leading a Business in Anxious Times provides you with the tools you need to make yourself a stronger, more effective leader under stressful circumstances.

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A much-needed update to one of the most significant family therapy theories of the past century.
Murray Bowen (1931–1990) was the first to study the family in a live-in setting and describe specific details about how families function as systems. Despite Bowen theory being based on research begun more than seventy years ago, the value of viewing human beings as profoundly emotionally-driven creatures and human families functioning as emotional units is more relevant than ever. This book, written by one of his closet collaborators, updates his still-radical theory with the latest approaches to understanding emotional development.

Reduced to its most fundamental level, Bowen theory explains how people begin a relationship very close emotionally but become more distant over time. The ideas also help explain why good people do bad things, and bad people do good things, and how family life strengthens some members while weakening others. Gaining knowledge about previously unseen specifics of family interactions reveals a hidden life of families. The hidden life explains how the best of intentions can fail to produce the desired result, thus providing a blueprint for change. 

Part I of the book explains the core ideas in the theory. Part II describes the process of differentiation of self, which is the most important application of Bowen theory. People sometimes think of theories as "ivory tower" productions: interesting, but not necessarily practical. Differentiation of self is anything but; it has a well-tested real-world application. Part II includes four long case presentations of families in the public eye. They help illustrate how Bowen theory can help explain how families―three of which appear fairly normal and one which does not―unwittingly produce an offspring that chronically manifests some time of severely aberrant behavior. 

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