The Princeton Family Center for Education offers training programs in Bowen family systems theory for professionals and non-professionals.

Training for Clergy, Religious Leaders & Pastoral Counselors

Course Objectives

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Daniel V. Papero, PhD, LCSW, Faculty, The Bowen Center

Bowen family systems theory offers people a way to conceptualize human behavior. It offers a way to think about, and focus on, a more objective way of understanding the relationships in which one lives as well as one's own functioning within these important relationships.

The objectives of each seminar will be to:

  • Understand specific patterns of family and relationship interactions as described by Bowen family systems theory.
  • Learn to apply system principles of Bowen theory to one's self and to one's family of origin.
  • Gain confidence in managing self in emotional chaos, stirred up congregations, conflicted relationships, static organizations, shrinking denominations, and family disruptions.
  • Acquire a conceptual framework for understanding human functioning.

2021/2022 Schedule

This series of monthly meetings will give trainees an opportunity to study the eight theoretical concepts of Bowen family systems theory. These concepts are:

  • Nuclear Family Emotional System
  • Differentiation of Self
  • Triangles
  • Family Projection Process
  • Emotional Cutoff
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process
  • Sibling Position
  • Societal Emotional Process

Due to Coronavirus distancing measures, this training is being conducted virtually again this year.  Eight three-hour Zoom meetings will occur from October 2021 through May 2022.

“Managing Self in Challenging Times”

In the midst of a global pandemic, societal tensions, climate issues, and the largest human migration in history, faith leaders need a framework for thoughtfully managing self in polarizing times.  Awareness of one’s own emotional reactivity, patterns of emotional process in family and workplace, and clear thinking about one’s own guiding principles can lead to better functioning and organizational health.

The clergy training program helps faith leaders learn the basic concepts of Bowen family systems theory, gain greater self-awareness, improve relationship skills, and become more proficient in applying systems thinking to real life situations at home and in the ministry setting.  As a result, many clergy report that they are able to stay in ministry, better manage themselves when the congregation is stirred up, and enjoy enhanced family relationships, which in turn, has a profound effect on their ministry.

Each session includes didactic teaching on the basic concepts of theory, applications to family and ministry dilemmas, and reflection on participants’ own real life stories from family and work settings.  Suggested readings and opportunities for viewing online video recordings will be available for participants wishing to learn more in between sessions.  Three individual supervision sessions will be available to each participant.

WHO: Individuals interested in learning or further learning about Bowen family systems theory.

WHAT: An opportunity to think about, review, and apply Bowen family systems theory to personal and family life, ministry settings, and the larger society.  Faculty presentations, guest presenters, suggested readings, questions for self-observation, and group discussions will focus on using theory as a guide in these challenging times.

WHEN: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. EST.   Virtual Zoom Sessions will be held on the first Monday of the month.

WHERE: Zoom Online

COST: $600 for the year (8 three-hour sessions and three optional individual supervision sessions).

HOW TO REGISTER: contact Rev. Julie Bergdahl (, or 215-536-8353) or Lee Gardner ( or 609-203-0162) to indicate your interest.  Payment shall be made and sent to: Princeton Family Center for Education, PO Box 331, Pennington, NJ 08534 or via Venmo (@Princeton-FamilyCenter) or PayPal.

The training dates are:

  • October 4, 2021
  • November 1, 2021
  • December 6, 2021
  • January 3, 2022
  • February 7, 2022
  • March 7, 2022
  • April 4, 2022
  • May 2, 2022

Click here for application form


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