About the Book – Growing Yourself Up
Jenny Brown speaks briefly about her experiences with Bowen Theory and her book, Growing Yourself Up
We are living in an era where it appears we are more connected with others than we have ever been; one where friends can be accumulated by the dozen and our every thought can be broadcast at a moment’s notice. Most of us also know, however, that, despite the convenience of social networking, real relationships can be much more problematic. They are the source of our greatest pride and joy but also can cause us immeasurable grief and heartache. One of the greatest challenges of life is to learn to negotiate these relationships well, maintaining our integrity and keeping the balance between autonomy and connection. This challenge remains, whether we are a teenager facing adulthood or an older person facing the end of life.
If you are looking for an easy book about relationships, one that will simply entertain or help you think more positively, this is not to be recommended. While it is accessible and easy to read it serves to challenge us in a way that most popular self-help or psychology books do not. It is a book for those seeking to take responsibility for the way they interact with others rather than finding fault, one that will support those who want to understand the patterns they find themselves in and mature in the process.
This book does not follow the common superficialities of self-help books. Instead it encourages us to be honest about the way we interact with loved ones and humble enough to recognize when we are contributing to the problems we experience every day.
Few could be better equipped as your guide in this process than social worker, therapist and educator, Jenny Brown. She has trained with some of the international leaders in the field of relationships, including Family Studies program run by Salvador Minuchin, the founder of structural family therapy and Betty Carter, one of the founders of the Women’s Project in New York. She is also one of our foremost proponents of Bowen Family Systems Theory, a widely accepted and comprehensive approach to professional relationship therapy. Much of the thinking in this book is derived from Bowen’s critical work and from Jenny’s more than 25 year history of providing clinical services to those in distress.
One of the most significant contributions of this book is that it is one of the few endeavours by a leader in professional family therapy to write directly for the public. Family therapy has been a mainstay of counselling and clinical services for more than four decades, providing models that allow for innovative and contextual solutions to human problems. To this date, however, the majority of family therapists have written primarily for the academic and professional audience, concerning themselves with philosophical and practice issues. This book serves as a rare opportunity for the layperson to access this rich tradition, divest of arcane and unnecessary jargon. More particularly, this is a rare opportunity to access Murray Bowen’s thinking, one of the few historical proponents of family therapy who endeavoured to maintain the depth provided by psychodynamic practice within a systems framework. Much of the history of family therapy has concerned itself with questioning the notion that our problems can be located inside us, proposing that it is more useful to locate them between people. Bowen allows for a complex theory of human relationships, one that allows for both the internal and interpersonal domains to operate simultaneously. By doing so he was a man ahead of his time.
While Bowen’s theory is central to this book, Jenny’s skill lies in translating it to be of direct personal relevance, honed through her direct work with individuals, couples and families and through her longstanding commitment to education. Her authoritative voice is also augmented by a host of stories from her work, which will promote personal reflection and insight. What emerges is a book of wisdom, presented carefully and empathically without pulling any punches. The ideas will resonate, I trust, not as being from the ivory tower of academia or but reminding us of deep truths that you somehow already know.
BOOK REVIEW: GROWING YOURSELF UP
Dr Paul Rhodes Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology
The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia; Co-Editor of Working with Families: A Practical Guide