The Family Diagram app seminar is an opportunity for advanced students of Bowen theory to engage the app in the application of theory. Participants learn through presenting their own efforts to the author of the app and to other participants.
Each meeting consists of a conceptual presentation by Dr. Patrick Stinson, the author of Family Diagram, followed by participant presentations. The goal of Dr. Stinson’s presentations is to stimulate thinking about basic theoretical principles in the context of the app. Each participant then presents their own effort followed by a brief facilitated discussion.
The seminar follows from the belief that there is predictability amidst the complexity of family emotional process, and that this predictability is only waiting to be seen through the systematic organization of old information in new ways. The app itself is only one effort to innovate in the way that information about family emotional process is managed. Thus, participants are encouraged to bring their own thinking and innovations about ways to get more systematic about understanding the family as a biological unit with or without the app.
While the dates and timing will depend on the number of participants, meetings last roughly 2 hours and occur about every 8 weeks during the academic year. Dates will be determined by online poll once the participants are set. 2 hours is the minimum amount of time for presentations by Dr. Stinson and 1 participant with room for discussion. The longer, 8 week interval is intended to provide for the kind of individual work and reflection required for efforts with the app.
Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation by Dr. Stinson and facilitated discussion with everyone in the meeting. It will then proceed with a 20 minute participant presentation followed by a facilitated discussion with everyone in the meeting.
Dr. Stinson’s presentations will pertain to app features and/or theoretical dilemmas posed or exposed by the app. New features and/or developments that bring academic substance may be discussed from time to time. Regardless of topic, emphasis will always bias toward the academic as opposed to the technical. In other words, the focus will be primarily on the human as a natural phenomenon and secondarily on technique with the Family Diagram app itself.
NOTE: There is not enough time to provide tech support in the meeting. Participants are therefore responsible for their own tech support during the meeting. This includes ensuring that the app is functioning, that they can access the appropriate diagrams prior to the meeting, and that they are able to show the app over Zoom screen share without assistance.
One participant will present their research project using the app in each meeting. The schedule of presenters will be set once applications are closed. Presentations are an important tool for clarifying one’s own thinking and gaining access to the thinking of others. Dr. Stinson will facilitate a discussion on the thinking and challenges covered in the presentation.
This process will likely raise questions and thinking about how to better organize a systematic approach to the problem at hand as well as how to use the app itself.
NOTE: There is not enough time during the seminar meetings for tutorial-style instruction on how to use the app. Therefore, participants are expected to learn to use the app outside the seminar using the published learning materials and support channels.
Prerequisites for Application
The following are the basic requirements for application:
- At least 2 years of formal training in Bowen theory or substantial formal research training or experience.
- Access to the Family Diagram app on Windows or MacOS
- Moderate technical ability with the app, including adding and editing family members, emotional process symbols, and accumulating a timeline of events. Participants are expected to present their effort using the app. NOTE: This requires participants to learn to use the app outside the seminar using the published learning materials and support channels.
- An active and clearly defined falsifiable research project through which to engage the app. Applicants may certainly change or redefine their project, but some project is necessary to structure their effort in the seminar. Click here for instructions on how to define the research project (Publication on Alaska Family Systems is not a requirement for application to the seminar, nor is the “Statement of Commitment” section of the proposal).
New Students of Bowen theory
New students of Bowen Theory may refer to The Annotated Bibliography for New Students of Bowen Theory as a guide to choosing a starting point for reading about Bowen Theory.
Information about formal training in Bowen Theory can be found on the Training page at the Bowen Center’s website.
Information about other programs in the International Bowen Network can be found on the Bowen Programs Elsewhere page of the Bowen Center website.
Required Reading Materials
Though much can be learned in the seminar about how to use the app, the seminar itself does not involve classroom-style tutorials. Participants are instead expected to make an effort to learn how to use the app outside the seminar. Comprehensive tutorial-style learning is freely available through the following “required reading” materials:
- Family Diagram User Manual, also accessible from the “Help” menu of the app.
- The Official Family Diagram Video Tutorial, also accessible throughout the User Manual.
- The individual technical support channel for the app.
Optional Reading Materials
Participants who meet the prerequisites for application will already be familiar with the following optional reading materials and resources:
- Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Murray Bowen, 1978
- Family Evaluation, Michael Kerr, 1988 (Particularly Chapter 10 on Family Assessment)
- The Family Systems Journal
- Alaska Family Systems news and articles. It is recommended you subscribe to updates for the website to stay current on new conceptual developments and app features.
Cost of Attendance
The fee for the year is $200. This fee serves the following functions, in order:
- To be cause for personal investment in each participant
- To cover a portion of the time required to organize and facilitate the seminar (The remainder is volunteered)
- To cover a portion of the time for research advising by Dr. Stinson (The remainder is volunteered)
- To support some portion the cost of ongoing app maintenance and development.
A spot is secured in the seminar upon full payment of the fee. Scholarships are available upon the negotiation of a contribution to testing the app and/or development of its concepts. Free app licenses are also available for those who submit a research proposal and agreement to publish on AFS.
Those interested in participating in the seminar will fill out the following application. You will be contacted directly via email regarding your submission and information for payment of the participation fee.
Please note that the “Statement of Commitment” section in the proposal format link is not required when applying for the app seminar. The goal for including a research project description document in the seminar application is merely to 1) ensure that each participant has a structure to organize their effort in the seminar, and 2) that the plan includes developing proficiency using the app prior to the seminar meetings. For this to work, one’s thinking about the effort at hand must be sufficiently clarified. A standard research proposal/definition has proved an ideal format for this.
Applicants are as eligible as anyone to receive a free one-year professional app license by completing the research project definition, as outlined in the instructions on the linked post. This simply amounts to adding a “Statement of Commitment” section to receive the free one-year app license and then also to complete the project as agreed in that statement of commitment.
NOTE: It is expected that the majority of applicants will require some advising by Dr. Stinson to complete the document describing the research project. The application itself is intended to be an exercise at clarifying one’s thinking. Therefore, do not be afraid to make mistakes in your initial submission. Submit the best project description you can according to the instructions and example, and expect some feedback. This is a skill to be learned – returning applicants are less likely to require corrections.