The Family Systems Approach to working with adolescents with mental health challenges.

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Instead of focusing on the problem-bearer, the family systems approach (or Bowen theory), as developed by the late psychiatrist, Dr. Murray Bowen (1913-1990), takes a broad view of the client’s situation. The multigenerational family system, and not the individual bearing the problem, is seen as the patient. The undesirable behaviour, as expressed by the problem-bearer, is regarded as the symptom of the dysfunctions in the family system, and not as the psychopathology of the individual. The functioning of individual family members is seen in relation to the functioning of one another. How would such approach inform our conceptualization and treatment of cases? In this workshop, the presenter will illustrate the application of the family systems approach to a clinical case involving a Chinese adolescent with mental health challenge. The presenter will also highlight key concepts and strategies of this approach which will be of use to parents, adolescents with mental health challenges and related professionals. 

Peggy Chan is a family therapist and has been the Director of Programme of ISS Family Institute of the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch since 2002. She received her training in Social Work and Counselling in Hong Kong and Canada respectively. She started her family systems theory training in the early 1990s in Vancouver and attended five years of the Postgraduate Program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Its Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, Washington D.C. from 2008-2013. Since then, she has continued the study of Bowen theory at the Bowen Center’s Research Seminar Group. She is a member of the Bowen Center’s Network Program for the Advancement of the Bowen Theory, and collaborates with other Bowen theory training centers around the world to promote better learning and teaching of Bowen theory. 

Mrs. Chan was a plenary speaker of the 1st International Conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory, Pittsburgh, U.S.A. She also presented at the 2017 Symposium of the Center for the Study of Natural Systems and the Family, Houston, Texas. Besides conducting training programmes on Bowen theory in Hong Kong, she has presented at conferences and workshops in China, Taiwan and U.S.A. Working closely with non-governmental organizations, she conducts programmes for parents of school children and of substance abusers based on Bowen theory. 

Mrs. Chan is Honorary Assistant Professor of the University of Hong Kong, teaching and supervising M.Soc.Sc. (Counselling) students since 2002. She is Associate Fellow and Approved Supervisor of the Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association, as well as Approved Supervisor of the Hong Kong Marriage and Family Therapy Association.