Archive for the ‘Bowen Family Systems’ Category

img_8174At Affordable Counseling, issues of unresolved attachment from one’s family of origin are often connected to patterns of relational functioning in adult life. Sometimes people that have passed continue to occupy space in ways that can interfere with healthy attachment patterns. Writing letters and poetry to a missed parent in therapy may aid in resolution to unfinished business with the deceased. The following poem illustrates this intervention:

“I Still Hear You”

The one organ of contact with existence is Love.

It pulls me backward to your grave,

     Where we talked today…

          Amidst anthills, wilted flowers, and stoic little flags.

Five years, Dad.

Without you, who remembers me?

My loneliness conspires against gratitude’s purest form.

Resentment of your wildman persona

     Rivals childlike reverence for my idealized memory. 

Why are you gone?

Is this message at your burial site my consolation prize?

The marker’s command reassures me that you will…finally…”rest in peace.”

When did YOU ever take orders?

I stand here, staring down, feeling small again.

Hesitant, blood red polished nail, tracing letters of your name,

     etched so bold,

And I fall swiftly through my life passages.

Trusting you,

Moving away from you,

Gaining initiative,

Becoming industrious,

Becoming “me”

Reciting your lessons,

Repeating our promises,

Trying for intimacy

Yet remaining pulled to you,

     as if sucked into a Black Hole,

And I, too, maintain that gravitationally unique orbit pattern.

Manifest Destiny of Dads and Daughters. 

Ambivalence simmers inside.

I mix up the guilt with blessings and blaspheme.

Remarkable how in sacred silence,

     your influence gathers momentum.

Admonishments, affirmations, advice, your chuckle,

Half-expecting you to wink back for an instant…

I caress gently that indifferent marble slab,

     as if to wipe off your sweat.

Quietude screams in my brain.

I break the silence with a soft cry-whisper,

     calling to your memory, entreating you to sign.

I can taste the answer somewhere in my spinal synapses.

For still, Dad, I CAN HEAR YOU in crazy shapes and glimmers,

A kind of shimmery, immutable, star-spangled design.


                                                                August, 2002.


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I am ever grateful for the intense training I had and for my continuing commitment to study in Bowen Family Systems Theory. Here is a favorite quote I keep in the back of my mind when working with couples at www.cunninghamtherapy.com

“When any member of an emotional system can control his own emotional reactiveness and accurately observe the functioning of the system and his/her part in it, and can avoid counter attacking when he is provoked and when he can maintain an active relationship with the other key members without withdrawing or becoming silent, the entire system will change in a series of predictable ways.”

Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, page 486, Dr. Murray Bowen, pioneer in marriage and family therapy.

Systems couples counseling can result in transformative marital dynamics. Call Dr. Barbara Cunningham at 619 990-6203 for a complimentary telephone consultation.

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