Emotional Process in the Family and Society – The Family Projection Process, and Emotional Regression in Society

With Daniel V Papero, PhD, LCSW of the Bowen Center in Washington, DC

And Michael Sullivan, LMSW, The Family Institute of Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Michigan

Saturday, May 13, 2017

8:45am to 5:00pm

Courtyard by Marriott  –  Santa Rosa, California
175 Railroad Street
Santa Rosa, CA  95401

Daniel Papero PhD, LCSW

Daniel Papero PhD, LCSW

Daniel Papero PhD, LCSW
the Bowen Center in Washington, DC

Returning to the Concept of Societal Regression

Bowen essentially laid out a framework for his concept of societal regression (later renamed emotional process in society) but left the details for others to fill in.  He hypothesized that intensifying anxiety in broader societies led to an increased togetherness pressure.  In the face of that pressure, leaders became uncertain, structures of principles were abandoned, and a focus on individual rights prevailed over a focus on individual responsibility.  Further examination of the concept has led me to conclude that the above noted markers of societal regression are symptoms of a more fundamental regression, the erosion of the basic processes by which families and social groups respond and adapt to change effectively and efficiently. In response to repeated challenges over time, greater inefficiency and ineffectiveness creep in the response processes.  The processes themselves become strained, and work-around mechanisms appear that provide a way to temporarily address the challenge.  These temporary mechanisms incur a growing cost, as the effort to maintain them becomes more difficult and the underlying challenge becomes more pronounced.  This theory day will serve as a forum to develop more fully these ideas and their implications for society.

Dr. Papero is Senior Faculty at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, having been a director of the center and of it’s training program in the past.  He is author of Bowen Family Systems Theory, one of the major texts explicating Bowen theory. He has contributed his expertise to our program in Sonoma County for many years and has mentored many clinicians and programs in the national and international network around Bowen theory. He has been a business and organizational consultant to schools, professional organizations and the military.

Michael Sullivan, LMSW

Michael Sullivan, LMSW

Michael Sullivan, LMSW
The Family Institute of Northern Michigan, Traverse City, Michigan

When in regression, families lose the ability to effectively respond to the demands of the social environment and are unable to maintain internal stability. Short-term relief comes at the high cost of compromised future functioning. Emotional regression erodes the family’s adaptive capacity.  The nuclear family projection process – an anxious focus on a real or imagined problem in a child – is one pattern of regression.  This stabilizes the family, but, unintentionally, at the expense of the child’s functioning. Chronically anxious families engage a wide variety of advisors and specialists; family courts, behavioral specialist, educational consultants, therapeutic schools, wilderness training programs with the goal of “fixing the symptom.” Despite these efforts the regression frequently continues unabated. Mr. Sullivan will examine regression as a multigenerational family emotional process across the socioeconomic spectrum, emphasizing the impacts of emotional cutoff and chronic anxiety in the family, as well as the impact of regression in the social networks in which families are embedded.

Michael J Sullivan LMSW, founded the Family Institute of Northern Michigan and has been active in the network around Bowen theory for 40 years. He has presented in the USA and Sweden on the application of Bowen Theory in clinical practice, and has consulted with families in a variety of settings including, family court and drug court, and international boarding schools for the artistically gifted and teenagers with learning differences. An accomplished musician, performer and recording artist, he is Impresario Emeritus of the Traverse City Film Festival.



8:15 Registration

8:45 Welcome – Laura Havstad, PhD, Programs in Bowen Theory

9:00 – 10:15 Daniel V Papero – Reviewing Bowen’s Concept of Emotional Process in Society

10:15 – 10:30 Break

10:30  – 11:45   Michael Sullivan, LMSW – Regression in the Family – Sliding Down the Avalanche

11:45- 12:30 Panel discussion with Mr. Sullivan and Dr. Papero and discussion with the audience

12:30 – 2:00 Lunch

2:00 – 3:00 Mr. Sullivan – Societal Regression – Holes in the Lifeboat

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00- 4:00 Dr. Papero – Erosion of Competency

4:00- 5:00 Panel with Mr. Sullivan and Dr. Papero and discussion with the audience


Regular Fee is
$165 by April 29, $180 after April 29

For students & interns with proof of status
$115 by April 29 or $130 after April 29

Includes 6 CEU’s for Psychologists, MFTs & LCSWs

Programs in Bowen Theory is approved by the California Psychological Association to provide continuing professional education for psychologists. PBT maintains responsibility for this program and its content.


Pay by PayPal:

Conference Registration Fees


Mail to:

Programs in Bowen Theory
P0 Box 1945
Sebastopol, CA 95473 – 1945

Include email address & phone, & proof of student/intern status

Refundable, minus $40 fee by April 29


Courtyard by Marriott – Sonoma Wine Country
175 Railroad Street – Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 573-9000

As available, $169, – available May 11, and $189 for  May 12, 13

(Note:  only the $189 rate is in the online system so once the reservations are made our hotel contact will go back in and adjust the rates accordingly)

Reserve by April 11, 2017

Or Call (707) 573-9000 ext. 180 and ask for the group rate for Programs in Bowen Theory.

For more information:
Jan Beaulyn, MFT (707) 280-9773
Or jbeau1947@yahoo.com