Bowen theory is one of human behavior. The theory views family as an emotional unit and uses systems theory to describe interactions within the family. Bowen believed that humans are dependent and reactive to others. Family members are more likely to develop an outline as a certain family member’s behavior. Family members intensely affect each other’s feel, actions, and thoughts; no matter how detached they may be feeling. Bowen describes the family as a multigenerational process. The multigenerational process describes how differences in levels of differentiation between parents and their children lead to marked differences in differentiation in a multigenerational family (Nichol,2012). People desire attention, support, and approval from others, and react to other’s potentials and stressors. Each family has its own degree of interdependence. If one member exhibits a change in functioning, another member will follow with common changes. A family’s interdependence evolves to promote consistency to take care of, and protect family members. Tensions can affect this process leading to problems within the family. When one member is anxious, the anxiety may spread to others in the family and escalate, leaving the family members overwhelmed or isolative.
Bowen was aware of how most relationships something can involve a third person for example a friend or relatives. A three-person relationship system is considered a triangle. When two individuals are having problems, and are unable to resolve a conflict, they may seek advice from a friend or family member, bringing this person into their relationship. This relationship is considered a triangle. The term triangulation refers to the fondness of a couple to draw in a third member when the stress and anxiousness is extreme. The third person becomes the mediator as the anxiousness is shifted around. Fusion occurs when a home boundary are really weak. The relationships become joined and dependent upon one another for their sense of individuality. Undifferentiated people are probable to triangulate others and be triangulated. Differentiated people manage with life stressors and are less likely to triangulate or be triangulated. A triangle can create more tension than a two-person system because the tension is able to shift around from person to person throughout the system. The more people are driven by apprehension and anxiety, the less lenient they are of one another. (Nichols, 2012). Spreading the anxiety to each person, can be a solution for a while, however, the real problem never gets resolved. One of technique of Bowen a therapist can use the neutralizing triangles, “if the therapist can remain free of reactive emotional entanglements—in other words, stay detriangled—the family system and its members will calm down to the point where they can begin to work out their dilemmas” (Nichol,2012).
Structural family therapy utilizes many concepts to organize and understand the family. Two of importance is structure and boundaries. Structure is very important view of structural family; it is how determined if families have an assembly. Minuchin described structure is where family members sit in relation to one another. Who sits next to whom makes it easier to interact with some people and less so with others (Nichol, 2012). One of the most significant views of structural family therapy is that every family has a structure. This is how a family categorizes itself. Minuchin uses the tern structure to indicate that families have behavioral patterns, which he describes as conservative but changeable (Nichols, 2012). A healthy family structure is one in which there are clear boundaries around the system and its subsystems. Changing a dysfunctional structure means that therapy is directed towards changing the current structure of the family. The goal of therapy is to increase the flexibility of the family structure.
As relating to subsystems, Minuchin recommends that boundaries are the rules which define “who participates and how much”(Nichol,2012). Boundaries are invisible barriers that regulate contact with others and can be rigid, clear, or diffused. According to Nichols (2012), diffuse boundaries exist between a couple if they call each other at work frequently, neither has their own friends or independent activities and they view themselves only as a pair rather than as two separate personalities. Boundary making is negotiating the boundaries between members of a relationship, the actual relationship and the outside world (Nichols, 2012). Boundaries are “the physical and psychological factors that separate people from one another and organize them”, the unseen barriers that direct the contact that subsystems have with other subsystems and are necessary for a good family structure. Some boundaries may be more concrete allow the subsystem to perform its functions without interference from other subsystems. In order to function well, boundaries must be clear and not too rigid. There needs to be clear boundaries around the subsystem to allow the flow of energy to and from the subsystem.(Nichol,2012)
In Structural Therapy, the therapists attempt to join the family. The concept of “joining is accepting and accommodating to families to win their confidence and circumvent resistance” (Nichols, 2012). In the second step the therapist provokes family members to talk among the selves to produce enactments. Enactments help the therapist discover many things about a family’s structure (Nichols, 2012).The significant structural term of enactments is an interaction stimulated in structural therapy in order to observe and then change transactions that make up family structure (Nichols, 2012). According to Nichols (2012), empathy is used in structural family therapy to show understanding of the families’ beliefs and feelings. In the opinion of Nichols (2012), another common goal of a structural therapist is to help parents function together as an executive subsystem. In contrast, the goal within enmeshed families is to differentiate individuals and subsystems by strengthening the boundaries around them. The goal with disengaged families is to make boundaries more permeable (Nichols, 2010). The structural therapist believes that the approach of therapy must be systematized. For a structural therapist, one of the most important goals of therapy is the creation of an effective hierarchy (Nichols, 2010).
Bowenians therapeutic goals are to help people understand themselves and their relationships better with the assumption that they can then assume the responsibility for resolving their own problems. The objective is to stays in contact with the partners while remaining emotionally neutral, they can begin the process of detriangulation and differentiation that will profoundly affect the entire family system (Nichol, 2012). The clinical methodology tied to this formulation calls for increasing the parents’ ability to manage their own anxiety, and thereby becoming better able to handle their children’s behavior; and fortifying the couple’s emotional functioning by increasing their ability to operate with less anxiety in their families of origin.(Nichol,2012). “Bowenians don’t try to change people, nor are they much interested in solving problems”.