Bowen family systems theory (or Bowen theory) is a theory about human behaviour and relationships that view the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. It was developed by the late psychiatrist, Dr. Murray Bowen (1913-1990) in the 1960s. The theory has eight interlocking concepts. Its core assumption is that an emotional system that evolved over several billion years in the human species governs human relationship systems. Through knowledge of how the emotional system functions in one’s family, work and social system, Bowen theory offers a blue print for solving problems in each of these areas. Bowen theory has been applied to many domains such as family life, clinical work, faith communities, organizational management, businesses, and communities.
An entire family can be changed through the effort of one person. (Murray Bowen, MD, 1978)