About Programs in Bowen Theory

Programs in Bowen Theory provides education and training in family systems theory and family therapy for mental health professionals and the community. Located in Sonoma County in Northern California, and part of a national network of education and training centers, Programs in Bowen Theory sponsors conferences and training seminars, and serves as a center for professionals using Bowen theory.

Bowen family systems theory focuses on the family emotional system and how it affects individual behavior and development. Based in the natural sciences and systems thinking, Bowen theory is applied in individual, couple, and family therapy for emotional illness and other problems of the emotional system. Bowen theory also has much to offer the work place and other groups and their leaders in addressing problems arising from relationships.

Programs in Bowen Theory Mission

Programs in Bowen Theory provides education, training and support for mental health professionals and others using theory to help families, organizations and their individual members to resolve problems of the emotional system. Programs in Bowen Theory also supports research efforts to test and extend family systems theory.


Programs in Bowen Theory became a nonprofit corporation in 2004. From 1989 to 2004, Laura Havstad, Ph.D, sponsored Programs in Bowen Theory with biannual meetings as well as the annual Training Seminar in Bowen Theory for which she continues to maintain responsibility.

Dr. Murray Bowen led the first meeting in 1989. After he died in 1990, Dr. Michael Kerr and Dr. Daniel Papero led the meetings and kept the programs strongly connected to the center Bowen built at Georgetown University which continues on as the non-profit Bowen Center. Many others from around the country with expertise in the theory have contributed regularly to the meetings along the way.

Laura Havstad, PhD

IMG_3654_ret-lighter1-e1288756456460Laura Havstad founded Programs in Bowen Theory in 1989 for the purpose of providing a formal program to teach Bowen theory in Northern California. She is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Sebastopol, at www.family-psychologist.com. California since 1980. Dr. Havstad is an editorial consultant to the journal Family Systems which is published by the Bowen Center in Washington DC. She has done many presentations locally and elsewhere on many aspects of family systems, theory and psychotherapy.