In fact, having family therapy students understand their own families of origin continues to be a hallmark of training in Bowen systems therapy, the family therapy approach named after Murray Bowen that views problems as maintained through multigenerational patterns. Throughout his career, Bowen showed a greater interest in theory than in therapy.
He felt that too great of an emphasis on therapeutic technique led many therapists to replicate problem-maintaining patterns with their treatment families because they did not understand the theoretical underpinnings of their problems (Bowen, 1978). This focus on theory made Bowen somewhat unique within the family therapy field and also kept him somewhat separated and misunderstood (Wylie, 1992). Many of Bowen’s key ideas are presented in his book, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice (Bowen, 1978), which is a collection of important articles written and presentations made throughout his career.
His legacy has continued beyond his death in 1990, through the ongoing work of the faculty at the Georgetown Family Therapy Center. Theodore Lidz was a psychoanalytically oriented researcher interested in the role of families in schizophrenia. At Johns Hopkins University, he discovered that schizophrenic individuals came from homes with numerous family and marital problems (Lidz and Lidz, 1949). This certainly was a significant finding for its day, and opened the door for other family models of severe mental illness.