Clinical Internship and Practicum Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Therapy FAQ

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 to key concepts of the theory.

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

Living Systems Counselling has offered this clinical internship program 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 extensive training and experience with Bowen theory and therapy and a rich combination of life and work experience. Some of our faculty have trained at the Bowen Center. Together, Living Systems Counselling and its predecessor – the North Shore Counselling Centre – have over forty years 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. People interested in accreditation should check with their accrediting organizations for current policies on required clinical hours and supervision.

Can I use the Clinical Internship 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. Our recent Director of Training and Research trained directly with Dr. Bowen and is now the Director at the Bowen Center. This important connection will continue to strengthen the relationship between Living Systems and the Bowen Center. Faculty and supervisors regularly attend conferences and events at the Bowen Center, and our Executive Director trained at the Bowen Center and attends meetings sponsored by the Bowen Center in Washington, D.C.”

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

Trainees will 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.

Who are the instructors of the program?

There are multiple faculty members involved in teaching and providing individual and group supervision in the first year of the clinical internship program who have over ten years of experience in clinical work and or teaching. The primary instructor for the second year of the program is Randy Frost, who has decades of clinical experience and training at the Postgraduate Program in Family Systems Theory and Family Psychotherapy established by Dr Murray Bowen at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. in Washington, DC.

How many trainees are enrolled every year?

The number of students in the first year of the Clinical Internship Program can range from four to ten participants, and in the advanced group, between eight and seventeen. The group supervision component of the program has a maximum of six participants per group.

What types of people and professions have completed the clinical internship 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, and a social worker. Other professionals include pastors, educators, nurses, business executives, a lawyer, and human resource practitioners.

Find out more at one of our Information Sessions!

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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”

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.