THINK TANK


Description of Think Tank:

The Bowen Theory Academy Think Tank began in October 2013 under the leadership of the Bowen Theory Academy Board. Its purpose is to bring together people knowledgeable about Bowen theory and interested in advancing the ideas to stimulate each other’s thinking by making brief presentations and discussing them. It meets once a month for an hour and a half using webcasting technology. There is often considerable exchange between individuals outside of the structured sessions. The group agreed to list all of the titles of their presentations with the understanding that by also providing their e-mail addresses that anyone who visits this website could contact a particular presenter with questions or comments.

The Think Tank is by invitation only at present, which is due in part to the limitations of the technology. This means that it has not been possible to include many fine Bowen theory thinkers. There are presently thirteen members of the Think Tank. The views expressed by each presenter do not necessarily represent those of the Academy, nor are they assumed to always be consistent with Bowen theory as it is currently structured. The effort is to push the edge, not to rubber stamp what is already known.

Think Tank Presentations:

Note: presentation materials are available for the subjects listed by clicking the link below the title.


June 12, 2020

Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.
“The Role of Polyvagal Theory, the Oxytocin Hypothesis and Bowen Theory on Reactions to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
click here to download presentation

Chris East, Psy.D
“Emotional Intelligence and Bowen theory”
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Joan Jurkowski, LCPC
“An Effort to Understand Terminology Used in Bowen Theory”
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May 8, 2020

Victoria Harrison, MA, LMFT
“How and What I think about Differentiation of Self”
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Michael Kerr, M.D.
“Towards a Natural Systems Theory of Cancer.”
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April 10, 2020

Chris East, Psy.D
“What is differentiation of self?”
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March 13, 2020

Jim Edd Jones, PhD.
“Is Differentiation All You Need?”
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February 14, 2020

Chris East, Psy.D
“Bowen Theory and the Challenge of Cultural Polarization”
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June 14, 2019

Carolyn Jacobs, PsyD
“How Do I Know I’m Wrong When I’m Convinced, I am Right?”
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May 10, 2019

Michael Kerr, M.D.
“Brief Revisiting of TOFT and It’s Importance to Bowen Theory”
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October 12, 2018

Jay Combs, MSW
“Some Thoughts About Bowen Theory and the Bowen Network”
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March 9, 2018

Jim Edd Jones, PhD
“Patterns of Interaction in Living Systems”
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December 8, 2017

Jim Edd Jones, PhD
“Schizophrenia and Family Reaction to Grandparent Death”
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November 11, 2017

Michael Kerr, M.D.
“Research Supporting a Link between Chronic Anxiety and Cancer Progression”
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October 13, 2017

Margaret Otto, LSCSW
“Construction theory of emotion and BFST”
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June 9, 2017

Jay Combs, MSW
“A Bowen Theorist in Public Administration”
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Jim Edd Jones, PhD
“A Little More Systems Rationality: Bayesian Reasoning”
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Michael Kerr, M.D.
“Brief Book Review: How to Tame a Fox, Lee Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmilla Trut”
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Think Tank Presentation Titles:


September 11, 2020

“When DOES Difference Make a Difference “
Kent Webb, LCSW, PCC

“Medical Model/Family Systems Treatments Explored”
Lona Hardy, LCSW, MSW, MS Ed.

“Hidden Valley Road”
Michael Kerr, M.D.


June 12, 2020

“Societal Regression”
Jay Combs, MSW


May 8, 2020

“Leveraging theory to think in times of acute challenge – separatist g fact from fiction with the challenge of domestic violence. “
Amie Post, MA, LCMFT

“Musings on Covid-19 Sequela”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS


April 10, 2020

“Applying Systems Thinking to the Individual: A Path Towards Connecting with Bowen Theory.”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Gap Report Revisited”
Lona Hardy, MSED, MSW, LCSW

“Emotional Shock Wave in the Family”
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C


March 13, 2020

“Bowen Theory and Symptoms”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Differentiation and Brain Flexibility”
Margaret Otto, L.S.C.S.W.

“Polyvagal Theory”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Variables Independent of Level of Differentiation”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD


February 14, 2020

“Is Differentiation All You Need?”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD

“Understanding and Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Anxiety: Bowen Theory and an Evolutionary Perspective”
Victoria Harrison

“How Bowen theory can Contribute to a Better Response to Environmental Challenges”
Randy Frost, M.Div. RCC


January 10, 2020

“Disruption, Disturbance and Cut-off: Can it Lead to Adaptation and Survival?”
Margaret Otto, L.S.C.S.W.

“Toward a Systems Theory of Cancer”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Application of Bowen Theory in Understanding Patterns of Polarization with a Therapeutic Response”
Chris East, Psy.D


December 13, 2019

“More About Natural Systems and Societal Emotional Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Defining Self around Separation of Children From Family”
Victoria Harrison

“Operationalizing concepts in Bowen Theory”
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C


November 15, 2019

“Differentiation of Self Across the Phylogenetic Tree”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Triangles”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Applying Bowen Theory in a Position of Community Leadership”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS

“Systems Thinking Capturing Cancer Research”
Michael Kerr, M.D.


October 11, 2019

“Bowen Theory as a Framework for Program Design and Evaluation”
Amie Post, MA, LCMFT

“Attachment Theory & Bowen Theory”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS

“What makes Bowen Theory a Natural Systems Theory?”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


September 13, 2019

“Emotional Shockwave, Fusion and Unresolved Emotional Attachment”
Kent E. Webb, LCSW, PCC

“The Functionality of Functional Facts”
Chris East, Psy.D

“The Value of Observation and Research in a Clinical Practice”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Sibling Position: The “Borrowed” Concept”
Jay Combs, MSW


June 14, 2019

“Explaining the Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia with Bowen Theory’s Concept of Self”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Contributions of Bowen Theory to Understanding Climate Change and Reactions to Changes”
Victoria Harrison


May 10, 2019

“Thoughts About Societal Emotional Process Following the Heartland Conference”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“How Do You Resolve A Schism?”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Marriage and Differentiation”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


March 8, 2019

“TOFT (Tissue Organization Field Theory): Implications for Bowen Theory and Cancer Research”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Adoption and the Multigenerational Process”
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C

“Excerpt from Edible Forest Garden by Dave Jacke”
Chris East, Psy.D


February 8, 2019

“Some More Thoughts about Functional Shifts”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Differences Revisited: Bowen Family Systems Theory in Today’s Therapy World”
Victoria Harrison, LCSW, LMFT

“Projection Process in Families and Society Applied to Parent Education Programs”
Lona Hardy, LCSW

“Aging, Level of Differentiation and Survival”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


January 11, 2019

“The Marital Dyad”
Cynthia Larkby, Ph.D.

“Bowen Theory’s Ninth Principle”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Bowen Theory as a Different Paradigm for the Study of Human Behavior”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


December 14, 2018

“Neuroscience, Chronic Anxiety and Bowen Theory”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“The Inadequacy of Simplistic Causal Reasoning”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD

“Physiological Reactions and Family System”
Victoria Harrison, LCSW, LMFT

“Growing a Social Brain”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW


November 16, 2018

“Observations Made in a Clinical Practice”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Differentiation of Self and Frederick Douglass”
Chris East, Psy.D

“The Placebo Effect”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS


October 12, 2018

“Phylogenetic Lineage of Emotional Systems and Evolution of Differentiation of Self Part 1”
Victoria Harrison, LCSW, LMFT

“Reciprocal Societal Projection Process”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD


September 7, 2018

“Recent Research that Informs Bowen Theory’s Variable of Chronic Anxiety and Cancer”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Functional Position: in Fire Ant Colonies and Other Systems”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS

“The Predictability of Bowen Theory”.
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C


June 8, 2018

“Reducing Emotional Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“The predictability of family emotional process over the course of development”.
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C

“SES, ACE, and Differentiation”
James E. Jones, PhD

“Is inflammation the Link Between all Disease?”
Michael Kerr, M.D.
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May 11, 2018

“Some Thoughts About the Enlightenment and Bowen’s Concept of Societal Emotional Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Moral Development and the Institution of the Family”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Bowen Theory and Science”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Thinking Systems about the Human Family”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


April 13, 2018

“How to Discern if Presentations Attributed to BFST Represent Systems Thinking?”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Applying Bowen theory to Community Leadership”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS

“Bowen theory’s Basic Concepts Applied to Child Development”
Lona Hardy, MS Ed., LCSW


March 9, 2018

“The Family Diagram as a Tool for Working on Differentiation of Self in One’s Family”
Victoria Harrison, LCSW, LMFT

“Reflections on the Heartland Conference with Steven Sloman”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“What Does Bowen Theory Potentially Bring to the Study of Resiliency?”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


February 9, 2018

“The Impact of the Death of the Least Differentiated Family Member on Chronic Anxiety in the System.”
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C

“What is Change?”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Cancer Research, Bowen Theory, and Observations in a Family”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“How Does Man Get So Stuck”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW


January 12, 2018

“The Family Movement, Bowen Theory, and Theoretical Medicine: A View from the 21st Century”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Evolution Theory, Moral Behavior, and Bowen Theory”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Fusion Driven Reactivity/Reciprocity”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS

“Observing Emotional Process in an Organization”
Lona Hardy, MSW


December 8, 2017

“Saving Science”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Multigenerational Transmission Process & Epigenetic Factors”
Victoria Harrison, LCSW, LMFT

“Applying Bowen Theory in Leading a Community Organization”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MS, CNS


November 11, 2017

“Assessment of Family Projection 101”
Laura Brooks, LCSCW-C

“Some Thoughts About the Societal Level Understanding and Use of Emotional Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Individuality and Togetherness”
Randy Frost


October 13, 2017

“Some Thoughts About How Man Thinks About Himself and His Environment”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Differentiation, Togetherness and Individuality”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Anxiety Binders”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD


SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

“Bowen and Bowlby, Is There a Common Thread”
Chris East, Psy.D

“Is a Systems Theory of the Individual Possible?”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Think Tank Presentations”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


June 9, 2017

“A Theoretical Look at Solid Self in Corporate vs. Non-Profit Sectors”
Chris East, PsyD


MAY 12, 2017

“Notes on Articles on Differential Parenting”
Laura Brooks

“Bowen Theory and the Challenge of Mothering”
Chris East

“What Constitutes Evidence of Convincing Change in a Family System”
Randy Frost

“Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.


APRIL 14, 2017

“Brief Report on The Knowledge Illusion, by Steven Sloman & Philip Fernbach”
Michael Kerr, M.D.

“Emotion Generation, Emotion Regulation and their Application to BFST”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Social realities and brute physical reality”
Jim Edd Jones, PhD


MARCH 9, 2017

“Emotional Cutoff”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


JANUARY 13, 2017

“Bullet Points from Lisa Feldman Barrett’s, PhD Research”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW


DECEMBER 9, 2016

“Systems Thinking and Symptoms”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Anthropocene II: The Human as Design Space”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.


OCTOBER 14, 2016

“Distinction between Intelligence and Rationality”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Societal Emotional Process: The Gap in Scientific Development”
Jay Combs, MSW

“What Innate Factors May Influence the Potential for Differentiation of Self?”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

“Positive Functional Shifts”
 Jay Combs, MSW


MAY 13, 2016

“A Bowen Theory View of Societal Change”
Jay Combs, MSW


APRIL 8, 2016

“Theoretical Perspectives of Emotion and the Brain”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“What do the Terms Over-Functioning and Under-Functioning Mean?”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


MARCH 11, 2016

“Antropocene I: The Age of Man and Societal Regression”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.

“Bowen Theory and Change”
Jay Combs, MSW


FEBRUARY 12, 2016

“What Does Bowen Say About Working With A Married Couple?”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


DECEMBER 2015

“The Challenge of Bringing Science to Human Behavior”
Jay Combs, MSW


NOVEMBER 6, 2015

Cooperative Breeding and Family Co-evolution”
Robert J. Noone, Ph.D.

“My Professional Self and its Precursors”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Evolution of Individuality and Togetherness”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“A teaching Model for Bowen Theory”
Dr. Christopher East


OCTOBER 9, 2015

“The Development of Bowen Theory: A Brief Survey of the NIMH Years”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Commentary: Seeing My Way to ‘NO’”
Dr. Christopher East

“How Do We Know that People Marry at the Same Basic Level of Differentiation?”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC

“Measuring Life Functioning: A Proxy for Level of Differentiation of Self”
Kathleen Kerr, MS, MSN


SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

“Lessons Learned from the Stress Response”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Research that Supports or Challenges Bowen Theory?”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Transmission of Anxiety in Golden Shiners”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Cooperation, Social Sensitivity and Problems in a Marriage”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC


June 12, 2015

“Esther Perel, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, and Bowen Theory”
Dr. Christopher East

“Societal Emotional Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Evolution of Complexity, Individuality, and Togetherness”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Regression, Symptom, and Recovery: A Follow-up?”
Kathleen Kerr, MS, MSN


May 8, 2015

“Development of Differentiation of Self: An Inherent Process”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.

“Murray Bowen’s Comparison of Family and Societal Processes in Dealing with Adolescents”
Lona Hardy, MSW

“Individuality, Togetherness, and Differentiation of Self”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


APRIL 3, 2015

“What Do the Terms Over and Underfunctioning Mean?”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Is there Evidence for the Societal Regression Concept in Bowen Theory?”
Kathleen Kerr, MS, MSN

“No Behavior is Isolated”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Affiliation Trumps Empathy; Togetherness Trumps Differentiation”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.


MARCH 6, 2015

“Life Forces Revisited”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Societal Emotional Process: International Relations and Triangles”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Family Emotional Process. Beliefs, and Learned Non-use”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Observational Blindness and Bowen Theory”
Laura Brooks, LCSW-C


FEBRUARY 6, 2015

“Regression and Remission”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Estimating Levels of Differentiation”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC

“Regression, Symptoms, and Recovery”
Kathleen Kerr, MS, MSN


JANUARY 9, 2015

“Aging, Caregiving, and Family Emotional Process”
Cynthia Larkby, Ph.D.

“Tagging Long-term Action Steps to Define a Self: ‘Progress’ in an Individual and Multigenerational Family”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.

“Towards a Systems Theory of Cancer”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.


DECEMBER 12, 2014

“Would a Higher Level of Differentiation Promote Peace”
Dr. Christopher East

“The Thinking Murray Bowen Brought to NIMH”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Differentiation and Learning”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Triggers: The Use of the Word in Bowen Family Systems Theory”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW


OCTOBER 31, 2014

“Are Individuality and Differentiation of Self Synonymous?”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC

“Regression and Remission”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Towards an Emotional Regression Theory of Cancer”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.


OCTOBER 3, 2014

“Societal Projection Process”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Moving Toward a Scientific Basis for Objective Moral Values”
Dr. Christopher East

“Differential Parenting and Bowen Family Systems Theory”
Laura Brooks, LCSW-C

“Trends in Understanding Cancer Consistent with the Emotional Regression Hypothesis”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.


SEPTEMBER 5, 2014:

“Reciprocity in a Triangle or Not: Pseudotriangles”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Brain Plasticity”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.

“Triangles, Anxiety, Being a Self”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Bowen Theory’s Contribution to a Scientific Basis for Objective Moral Values and Duties”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.


June 13, 2014

“Family Projection Process”
Cynthia Larkby, Ph.D.

“Does Divorce Make People Happy?”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Autism Revisited”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Triangling and De-triangling in an Organization”
Dr. Christopher East


MAY 9, 2014:

“Some Thoughts about Promoting Functional Self on a Societal Level”
Jay Combs, MSW

“Societal Trends in Managing Psychiatric Evaluations in the Emergency Department”
Kathleen Kerr, MS, MSN

“The Predictability of the Family Emotional System”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC

“Survey of Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology: Family Therapy and the Politics of Evidence-Based Practice”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.


APRIL 18, 2014:

“Learning Complex Skills”
Jim Edd Jones

“Plant Intelligence (PI) and Bowen Theory”
Laura Brooks, LCSW-C

“Unresolved Attachment Over the Life Span’
Lona Hardy, MSW

“The Parallel Emotional Process of Theology and Psychology in Study and Practice”
Dr. Christopher East


MARCH 14, 2014

“Thomas Berry, the Universe Story and Bowen Theory”
Dr. Christopher East

“A Way of Explaining Multigenerational Emotional Process”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Differentiation of Self and Multigenerational Transmission: Two Concepts that Clearly Anchor Bowen Theory in Evolutionary Process”
Jay Combs, MSW


FEBRUARY 14, 2014:

“The Seen and Unseen through Functional Facts”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW

“Systems Theories”
Deloras Pemberton, Ph.D.

“Thinking Through Hypotheses Derived from Bowen Theory for Epigenetic Investigation”
Randy Frost, M.Div., RCC


JANUARY 10, 2014:

“Are Three People Always a Triangle?”
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Moral Systems and Bowen Theory”
Jay Combs 

“Distance/closeness in collective flocking and schooling”
Jim Edd Jones

“Toward a Systems Theory of Cancer – Part II”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D. 


DECEMBER 20, 2013:

“The Question of Theory Erosion”
Carolyn Jacobs, Psy.D.

“Intensity of Family Emotional Process”
Laura Brooks, LCSW-C

“Does Bowen Theory Make a Difference in Psychiatric Dispositions in an Emergency Department?”
Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MA, CNS


NOVEMBER 8, 2013:

“Some Thoughts Relating Bowen Theory Acceptance on a Societal Level”
Jay Combs, MSW

Brief Review of: SW Cole, Social Regulation of Human Gene Expression, Am J Public Health 2013; 103:S84-S92.
Cynthia Larkby, Ph.D.

“A Motive for the Sandy Hook Shootings”
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“Modeling System Emotional Functioning”
Jim Edd Jones, Ph.D.


OCTOBER 11, 2013:

“What is the Difference between Detriangling and Staying Out of a Triangle?
Joan Jurkowski, MS, LCPC

“Toward a Systems Theory of Cancer” Part I
Michael E. Kerr, M.D.

“The Possible Use of Anxiety-Binding Mechanisms in the Nuclear Family to Better Estimate Level of Differentiation”
Randy Frost, M.Div, RCC

“Fiction as a Regulator of the Mental Health Field”
Margaret Otto, LSCSW