A Little Bit of History About Me

I met Murray Bowen, MD, in 1976 while working at a psychiatric hospital as an alcoholism counselor.  

 

Bowen accepted me into the Georgetown University postgraduate program in family therapy and theory, despite the fact that I'd only completed two years of college.  

 

After four years of postgraduate work I was hired in 1980 as the audio-visual coordinator at the Georgetown University Family Center, GUFC.

 

In this job I videotaped much of Dr. Bowen’s work with families.

 

Dr. Bowen had fifteen years of monthly videotapes with two of the same families.  They needed to be stored as part of Dr. Bowen's research on families.  In 1984 I was able to coordinate the gift of these family research videotapes to  National Library of Medicine.

 

Dr. Bowen and other psychiatrists on the faculty supervised my clinical work and I was awarded a social work license in the District of Columbia.  

 

In 1976 I was trained by Lilian Rosenbaum, PhD, in biofeedback. In 1985 I did a ten year study of families with AIDS.  

I 1987 I became an officer in the American Cybernetics Society, an organization devoted to understanding feedback in social systems.

 

I was appointed to the faculty of the Georgetown Family Center in 1993 and was there until 2011.  

 

Currently I am on the faculty of Navigating Systems DC, a continuing education company for consultants which uses Bowen theory as its base.

 

I am a founding board member of the Murray Bowen Archives Project.

 

Now, all my friends know I'm into movies. My favorite this year was The Lobster, my colorful review of which you can find here. 

I read as much as I film-watch and my treasured current book is Superintelliegnce: Paths, Dangers and Strategies, by Nick Bostrom. 

When not engaged by the venues above you can find me at the Bikram Yoga studio, which clears my mind from disruptive thoughts. When I need more disruptive thoughts I read John Paul Sarte or Dr. Bowen.

My Family Story

Born in 1941 as an oldest sister of two younger brothers, I was going to take charge when things were off kilter. Both my parents collapsed after WWII as a reaction to the accumulated war provoked stress and anxiety. In 1951, my brothers and I went to live with my maternal grandparents in Virginia Beach. The early years during the war had been spent with these grandparents and the return to this family unit was warm and safe and gave me the opportunity to wonder, to enjoy the world, to seek knowledge and to become an observer of my family. There was little clarity as to what had happened to create the chaos in my family and this lack of understanding lead to my interest in psychiatry.

After attending boarding school at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, DC I went on to finish two years of college at Marymount College in Terrytown, New York. Married in 1962 I now have a son, a daughter, and eleven grandchildren.

Beginning my work in psychiatry, I worked as an alcoholism counselor at a psychiatric hospital in Virginia Beach in 1975. It was here that I met the paradoxical Dr. Bowen. Having read his Anonymous paper, I saw that he had been able to see the family totally differently and to deal with it in a new way. The family for the first time could be seen as an interactive organism, reacting and responding more to habits than to the reality of the here and now. OMG, I thought, how did he do it?

I listened carefully to his talk, looking for answers, but instead I heard about lifetime learning and universities without walls, I was hooked. His focus was not on fixing alcoholism, the symptom of the moment, but on understanding mechanisms in the family and how the relationship system played out under stress. Bowen saw anxiety in the family in an impersonal, not in a blaming way.

I had the courage to ask Dr. Bowen if he had any family courses for those who had not yet finished college? Bowen sent me a post graduate application. Was this a mistake? No, despite my lack of formal education I was admitted to the training program at Georgetown University Family Center in 1976.

This four times a year program allowed people to travel to Washington for three days of intensive course work and personal supervision. I took the course for five years. In 1980, Dr. Bowen offered her a job as the audiovisual coordinator for the Georgetown University Family Center. In 1980 I moved to Washington, D.C. and continued to work with Dr. Bowen until his death in 1990. In 1991 I was appointed to the faculty by Dr. Michael Kerr, M.D.

During this time at the Georgetown Family Center, I arranged for the archiving Dr. Bowen videotapes, over two-hundred tapes, covering fifteen years of Dr. Bowen working with two families, at the National Library of Medicine in Washington, DC. They are available for researchers, but not yet for the general public.

I recently published my first book in English and in Spanish: Your Mindful Compass: Breakthrough Strategies For Navigating Life/Work Relationships In Any Social Jungle. The Mindful Compass approach is a quick way to understand how to define a self using the principles taken from Bowen Theory. The goal is to enhance people’s strengths and insights in social relationships.

I also published various articles and presented internationally in Japan, Sweden, Norway, France, and now Mexico. I have focused on developing a humorous and insightful approach to difficult problems, which can enable people to observe relationship dynamics and to think clearly about the issues they face.

For my latest thinking and blogs, visit by secondary website: https://yourmindfulcompass.com/ 

 

©  Andrea Schara | Observing Systems | 2019

"You have inherited a lifetime of tribulation. Everyone has. When you think you know the right way, make the most of it." - Murray Bowen

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