Family of Origin Research Groups


Family of Origin Research Groups

Family of Origin Research Groups are beneficial for both newcomers to Bowen Family Systems Theory and to anyone wishing to take their existing Bowen Family Systems knowledge to a deeper level. The group offers a solid engagement with theory and application.

Family of Origin Research Groups provide a ‘hands on’ way to learn about Bowen’s theoretical concepts. Through the use of one’s own three generational family diagram as a tool for observing and thinking differently about the facts, key events, and functioning of family members over several generations, participants will begin to ‘see’ their family as an emotional system and to recognise the patterns of reactivity that govern their own and other family members’ lives and relationships. This provides a basis for ongoing research and more objective observation of strengths, vulnerabilities, adaptability and behavioural interactions in response to the circumstances of life over generations.

These groups are NOT therapy groups, nor are interventions for managing self and family the focus of the discussions. The focus is on learning about yourself and your functioning in the generational family and on understanding your family as an emotional unit.

Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how their learning enhances understanding of their functioning in workplace / clinical role and in personal relationships. Discussion will also include focus on methods that participants can use to gather FoO information and to open up communication constructively with extended family.

Strict codes of confidentiality will apply.

FOO Groups are a Recognised Prior Learning activity

Anyone is welcome to join a Family of Origin Research Group. If you are interested in pursuing further training in family systems theory with the Family Systems Institute, FOO Groups count as 25 hours of RPL activity toward a Certificate Program.

Completion of Family of Origin Year 1 and Year 2 Groups is a requirement for the certificate programs.

Find out more about the RPL system for core programs here.

Requirements for FOO Groups

  • Minimum of 6 hours of demonstrated participation with FSI activities or workshops, and/or previous or ongoing supervision / coaching with an FSI faculty member (have a look at our events page if you are looking for workshops or reading groups to meet this requirement)
  • Commitment to attendance at all scheduled sessions, including the orientation session
  • Competence with and access to Zoom meeting platform
  • Purchase of required text book (see below) in advance of the orientation session

Technical requirements:

  • Desktop computer or laptop (the use of smart phone for video link is not acceptable). It may be possible to use a tablet or iPad if you have compatible software and it is on a stand.
  • Wired or wireless headsets or earbuds
  • Sufficient bandwidth to support stable internet connection and a video conferencing service
  • Scanner or Scanning App (eg Genius Pro or Adobe Scan) that can create good quality PDF images of diagrams for emailing between participants (photographs in their native form are not clear enough)

Required text

Harrison, Victoria (2018) The Family Diagram and Family Research. Center for Study of Natural systems and the Family. Houston, Texas

Find out more

Format of Groups

Family of Origin Research Groups have a maximum of 6 participants in them and are held online with eight 2-hour sessions plus an orientation session. They are facilitated by an experienced FSI trainer, and each person has the opportunity to present on their own family a number of times as well as learn from others’ presenting their families.

Learning methods include a combination of readings, discussion, short presentations by participants and other Bowen theorists describing their research and thinking, feedback from trainer and some audio-visual material. A rich exposure to theory occurs through each participant’s research efforts and their subsequent presentations which facilitates illustration of 6 different family systems.  Thus, each participant’s attendance at all sessions is essential (consideration will be made for genuine emergencies).

At the orientation session, the facilitator will outline further details regarding:

  • the format of the first and subsequent sessions, arrange the presentation schedule, clarify and discuss the ethics and expectations of working together, including codes of confidentiality
  • Address any concerns participants may have about working together
  • Review the technical requirements with regard to the exchange of diagrams between participants prior to each session
  • Clarify expectations regarding preparation for each session
  • Provide further instructions on the use of the features of Zoom meeting service for maximising learning from an online format of the FOO research groups
  • Introduction to the basics of Google Classroom which will be used as the vehicle for student’s access to all materials related to the program

Register for a Family of Origin Research Group

Our Family of Origin groups are popular and approved applications will go on a waiting list for a group, and then you will be notified about registration for an upcoming group when one becomes available. 

The required criteria of 6 hours of engagement with the FSI / Bowen theory prior to enrolment in one of these groups provides a strong platform for participants to engage with Family of Origin research with some prior systems thinking and experience coming into the group.

There are Year 1 Family of Origin Research Groups available. Certificate program students are also required to participate in a Year 2 Family of Origin Research Group after completing the first group. 


Family of Origin Group Costs

$1020 plus GST ($1122 incl. GST)

Can be paid in 2 instalments of $571.50 (3 months apart)

If you would like to register for a place in a Family of Origin Group, please complete the online registration form.

Get in touch

  • Contact details

  • Requirements for enrolment

    Existing basic knowledge of Bowen Family Systems theory is required, as evidenced by a minimum of 6 hours of FSI training and/or previous or ongoing supervision/coaching with an FSI faculty member.