On Friday, November 30, 2018 at Maple Woods Community College Campus, we hosted an online and in-person conference.

As the role of disturbances in human relationships gains acceptance as a major contributor to chronic anxiety, Bowen theory’s unique perspective on the specific details of how emotionally significant relationships generate chronic anxiety needs to come to the fore.

At this conference Bowen Theory Academy brought together speakers with expertise in physiology and biology, medicine, clinical applications of Bowen theory in family therapy and observations of patterns of transfer of anxiety in one’s own family. Each speaker had been aware of the development of Bowen theory for many years and has known Dr. Bowen. The presentations shed light on the details of individual and family emotional systems and chronic anxiety, found in every family, and highlighted the relevance they have to new findings in the development of emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms. Updates in theoretical thinking will be evident. Michael Kerr’s second book, Bowen Theory’s Secrets, Revealing the Hidden life of Families, represented his continuing work to extend Bowen theory. His presentation included aspects of his 21st century view.

View Recording

9:00-10:15 am

Toward a Systems theory of Cancer: From Cells to Families” – Michael E. Kerr M.D.

My conclusion from more than forty years of research from cancer biology to family systems is that a systems theory of cancer can eventually be developed. Cancer researchers have developed many important ideas about the biology of how cancers develop. Many of the ideas have striking parallels with basic concepts in Bowen theory, such as homeostasis, regression, and maturation. This presentation will explore the potential for integrating family systems ideas with current cancer research findings.

10:15-10:35 am


10:35-11:20 am

Anatomy of a Symptom – Kathleen Kerr MSN, MA, CNS

How can the occurrence of a symptom, cancer, be dissected from a systems point of view? This presentation reviews the longitudinal history of the development of a cancer, which led to an early death, in the presenter’s father. It suggests chronic and acute family emotional processes played a large role in this symptom.

11:20-12:20 pm

Panel Discussion – ModeratorCarolyn Jacobs Psy.D.

12:20-1:20 pm

Lunch – You’re welcome to bring your own lunch, visit the onsite cafeteria, or pre order a sandwich through us. (Our pre ordered selections include: Turkey Club, Roast Beef & Pepper Jack, Chicken Salad, or Oven Roasted Vegetable Wrap. Pre order one when you register for the event. See bottom of this page for ingredients in each sandwich.)

1:20-2:35 pm

“Homeostasis Undone: When Stress Causes the Family and Neuro-Endocrine-Immune System Triads to Push each other into Dysfunction” – Michael Lumpkin Ph.D.

This talk seeks to describe how stress/stressors that disrupt the healthy family triad, where anxiety, depression, and emotional cutoff may be present, can trigger stress mechanisms in the CNS and immune system that distort normal neuroendocrine activities resulting in failures, excesses or deficits in hormonal and immune system protections. In turn, the neuroendocrine-immune stress mediator molecules that are produced can act back on the brain to further drive both behavioral and somatic pathologies that exacerbate disruptions in family triad dynamics. These situations, left unaddressed, can persistently push the affected individuals and families out of any semblance of homeostatic balance (the healthy state) and into an ongoing state of organ system and behavioral imbalance (or failure) that only makes individuals more susceptible to disease or further dysfunction.

2:35-2:55 pm


2:55-3:40 pm

“Chronic Anxiety and Theories of Emotion” – Margaret Otto, LCSW

A basic concept of Bowen theory is chronic anxiety which is the outgrowth of the range of emotional interdependency in important relationships, or level of differentiation. This presentation will briefly examine theories of emotion and their application to perpetuation of a state of arousal, fear, self doubt and worry. Brief clinical applications will be described.

3:40-3:50 pm


3:50-5:00 pm

Final Panel Discussion – Moderator: Lona E. Hardy

Conference Speakers:

Michael Kerr, M.D.
Director, Bowen Theory Academy
Director Emeritus of The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington, D.C.

Michael Lumpkin, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, Georgetown University
Past Chairman, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Kathleen Kerr, MSN, MA, CNS
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Founding Board Member, Bowen Theory Academy. Coordinator of the Family History Database Project and the Bowen Theory Academy Research Seminar.

Margaret Otto, LSCSW
Director and Co-founder of the KC Center for Family & Organizational Systems
Local and national leader in representing Bowen Family Systems Theory, including presenting at regional and national levels.

Questions? Contact Lona E. Hardy
By phone: (707) 694-5379
By Email: info@bowentheoryacademy.org