Clinical Internship and Practicum Program

Clinical Internship in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Therapy (On-line Format)

This institution is certified by the Private Training Institution Branch (PTIB). For more information about PTIB, go to

The program works to answer this question:  “How does one move from thinking that locates problems in the individual to a view of the family as an emotional system that governs the development of strengths and symptoms in its members?”

Program Structure

The clinical internship program is a two-year part-time training program.   Training enables participants to learn how to use family systems theory in their work with individuals, couples, and families.  The group meets on-line weekly, for four hours each week, early October through mid-June. In the second year, the group meets online twice a month. Trainees ordinarily start a practicum with Living Systems in January. Adequate fluency is required if the trainee expects to counsel English-speaking families.

This program has been approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training. The Clinical Internship Program began in 1984 and has developed a reputation within the community for providing a quality training option for clinicians and other professionals.

Program Overview

The clinical internship at Living Systems combines a thorough introduction to the family systems theory developed by Murray Bowen with an opportunity to apply the theory clinically and in your own family. Knowledge of theory and the ability to apply theory to one’s own functioning is considered essential for the development of clinical excellence. Emphasis is placed on assisting trainees to understand their functioning in their own family and to develop a systems orientation to life. Trainees receive supervision of work in their own families as well as their work with clinical families.

Dr. Bowen’s effort to think toward the natural sciences is also represented in the program. Trainees are exposed to current thinking in such areas as brain research, the stress response, primatology, immunology, and evolution. By focusing on the common biological bases of human behavior, the theory provides an approach that transcends culture. Previous trainees from various cultures have found the concepts of Bowen theory applicable to families of their culture.

The program is unique in that trainees receive thorough training in a theoretical orientation that has wide applications beyond the field of counselling. The program has an excellent student-instructor ratio and trainees receive regular individual and group supervision. Trainees are paid to see clients which can help offset the tuition for the program. Monthly clinical conferences provide an opportunity for trainees to learn from counsellors trained in Bowen theory.


Trainees may use clinical hours and supervision time toward accreditation by such groups as the BCACC or BCAMFT or CCC. Trainees in Master’s programs often can use the training program toward fulfilling requirements for their degree. For an hourly breakdown of the first- and second-year program please refer to the Program Outline. The program contributes to students becoming a competent marriage and family therapists, clinical counsellors, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, social workers, human resource managers, and is useful for people in law, business, education, and psychiatry. The program has included trainees from all of these professions.

Tuition / Faculty

The tuition for the first year is $3,900 due on the first day of the class in October (or a payment plan is available upon request). There is a $100 admissions interview fee. The tuition for the second year is $2,800. Faculty and supervisors of the program have extensive training and experience in the use of Bowen theory in therapy. Randy Frost, M. Div, RCC, the Training & Research Director, trained under Dr. Bowen and Lois Walker, M. Div, RCC, completed the postgraduate program founded by Dr. Bowen. Other faculty members have over 10 years of extensive training and experience with the theory.

Application Procedures

Applications are due by August 15. Late applications will be considered depending on the space available. Applicants either have or are pursuing a Master’s degree in the social sciences or related fields, or they demonstrate a combination of life and work experience that, in the judgment of the Director of Training, will enable them to function successfully in the program. For application procedures or for more information contact Randy Frost, Training and Research Director, 604 926 5496 Ext 304 or Please visit (training tab).

How to apply

Thank you for your interest in the Clinical Internship in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Therapy (On-line Format) program.

The deadline to apply is August 15th (late applications may be considered).

Click Here: For the Program Outline, Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Click Here: For the Program Policies, including Student Statement of Rights, Tuition Refund Policy & Sexual Harassment & Harassment Policy

Contact information:

Please address your inquiries and applications to:

Randy Frost
Director, Training and Research

Living Systems Counselling
209-1500 Marine Drive
North Vancouver, BC, V7P 1T7
Tel. 604.926.5496

The theory postulates that far more human activity is governed by man’s (sic) emotional system than he has been willing to admit, and there is far more similarity than dissimilarity between the “dance of life” in lower forms and the “dance of life” in human forms.”

Murray Bowen, M.D. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I benefit from the Living Systems Counselling Clinical Internship Program?

Trainees have the opportunity to learn one theory of human functioning well and how to apply the theory to clinical counselling and other professional fields. The depth and breadth of Bowen theory make it applicable to a wide range of relational, emotional, social, and even physical problems. The theory’s delineation of key variables that influence emotional functioning can also help to address problems in work systems. The emphasis on the trainee applying the theory in his or her own family contributes to the therapist’s own development as a person as well as his or her effectiveness in professional settings.

How can Bowen theory help me in my counselling practice?

Theory guides the clinician to assess the way in which the functioning of the entire family unit is influencing presenting problems. An accurate understanding of the emotional forces at work in creating a problem provides a direction for therapy designed to modify the problem. Because the family functions as an emotional system, a therapist guided by theory can work with any member of the family to address his or her contributions to the problem, even if the symptom is present in another member of the family who refuses counselling. The flexibility of a systems approach provides a variety of ways to approach presenting problems in a clinical setting.

How can a deeper understanding of Bowen theory help me in my professional career?

The Program is designed to help people develop an accurate understanding of theory and to provide an opportunity to begin what can become a long-term effort to work on how each functions in their families of origin. If people are able over time to define more of a self in their nuclear and extended families, the amount of chronic anxiety they carry can gradually decline. The effort to understand and modify the part one plays in family problems can contribute to becoming a more responsible person. A more responsible person not only understands his or her contributions to problems but is able to define what he or she will and won’t do based on principles that they have carefully thought through for themselves. The more a professional person can gradually modify their emotional reactivity with a more accurate appraisal of what he or she can responsibly do with self in challenging circumstances, the more useful and effective that professional can become.

Why does The Program study Bowen theory exclusively?

Living Systems Counselling has adopted Bowen theory as its primary theoretical approach to counselling, education, training and research. In this way, each area of the organization’s mission can complement and inform the others. For trainees to represent the approach taken by Living Systems Counselling with clients, they must have an adequate grasp of Bowen theory and the ability to apply it. We believe it is more important to know one theory well than to have a superficial knowledge of many theories. Bowen theory is an open theory that is subject to modification by new knowledge from the natural sciences. Trainees, accordingly, learn some of the recent developments in such areas as brain research, the stress response and primatology, each of which has relevance for key concepts of the theory.

Why should I choose Living Systems Counselling to learn about Bowen theory?

The Program has been offered at Living Systems Counselling since 1984. From its inception under Dr. Ronald Richardson, the program has focused on marriage and family therapy informed by Bowen theory. The current faculty and supervisors of the Program have trained at the Bowen Center and the program director trained with Dr. Bowen. Together, Living Systems Counselling and its predecessor – the North Shore Counselling Centre – have more than two decades of experience with the theory and its applications.

Can I use clinical hours and supervision time toward my accreditation?

Yes, depending on the accrediting body. The director of training and supervisors in the program are registered clinical counsellors with the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors and are certified as fellows with the American Association of Pastoral Counsellors. People interested in accreditation should check with their accrediting organizations for current policy on required clinical hours and supervision.

Can I use the Program toward academic requirements for completing a master’s degree?

Yes, depending on the policy of the school. A number of students pursuing master’s degrees from various universities in the Lower Mainland and Washington State have been given credit for practicum requirements toward their degree. People interested in this possibility should check with their school.

How much clinical experience will I gain?

Trainees in their first year begin seeing clients of Living Systems Counselling in January and typically develop a caseload of three to five appointments per week. Second-year trainees may develop a caseload of six to ten appointments per week. The opportunity to counsel clients depends on the availability of clients and the readiness of the intern to see clients as determined by the director of training.

What type of relationship does Living Systems Counselling have with The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.?

The Bowen Center website lists Living Systems Counselling as one of eight locations with programs that are “directed by people who trained extensively at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family and who are in close contact with the most recent developments in Bowen theory and the science that informs theory.” Living Systems Counselling sponsors two conferences every year at which faculty from the Bowen Center present. The program director and supervisors regularly attend conferences and meetings sponsored by the Bowen Center in Washington, D.C. The director of training regularly presents at meetings sponsored by the Bowen Center and at conferences throughout North America that are sponsored by other groups interested in Bowen theory.

As a trainee, how would I benefit from that relationship?

Trainees will have the opportunity to learn from people who have trained extensively at the Bowen Center and who are in close contact with the most recent developments in the theory and the science that informs it. Trainees also have the opportunity to learn directly from members of the faculty at the Bowen Center at conferences sponsored by Living Systems Counselling . And the library of Living Systems Counselling contains videotapes and DVDs of presentations and conferences by Dr. Bowen and other experts in Bowen theory and therapy.

Is the Program registered?

Yes. The Program is registered with the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of British Columbia.

Who are the instructors of the Program?

The primary instructor of the Program is the director of training, Randy Frost, RCC, M.Div. Lois Walker, M.Div, RCC, and Randy Frost provide supervision. Both have decades of clinical experience and both have trained at the Postgraduate Program in Family Systems Theory and Family Psychotherapy established by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Georgetown Family Center in Washington, DC.

How many trainees are enrolled every year?

On average, the first year of the Program has four to six participants and the advanced group has between three and five participants.

What types of people and professions have completed the Program?

The Program has included people working on their master’s degree and people already practicing in their fields. Professions represented in the Program have included clinical counsellors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counsellors, a psychiatrist, social workers, pastors, educators, nurses, business executives, a lawyer, and a human resource practitioner.

Living Systems Counselling is a registered society, charity# 107784308RR001. We are a leading provider of counselling, training, education, and research-based on Bowen family systems theory. We offer individual, couple, and family counselling for a wide range of relationship and mental health issues in a variety of locations in the Lower Mainland. We thank the BC Gaming Commission, District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, City of New Westminster, Individual donors and our members for their support.

209-1500 Marine Drive, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 1T7

Telephone: 604.926.5496…….Email: