Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Triangles in Bowen Family Therapy

  • Laurie LassiterEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_363

Murray Bowen included the concept of the triangle in his theory, Bowen Family Systems Theory, or Bowen theory, to explain his observations of automatic interactions among three or more individuals, especially under periods of tension, stress, or anxiety – terms used interchangeably here. He saw two-person relationships as being inherently unstable when stressed and tending to involve a third person in order to manage and shift anxiety within the twosome to include a third. In his original descriptions, there are two inside positions and one outside position. The person in the outside position will tend to try to gain an inside position with one of the two insiders, pushing the other one to the outside position. When tension increases, one may seek the outside position instead as in, “You two fight it out and leave me out of it.” Bowen postulated that the triangle processes made it possible to manage more anxiety than could be managed in a two-person relationship by distributing it...

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  1. Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  2. Lassiter, L. (2008). The regulatory function of the triangle. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Triangles: Bowen family systems theory perspectives. New York: The Haworth Press, Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  3. Lassiter, L. Unpublished transcripts of individuals’ sessions with Murray Bowen.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LeverettUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly F. Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA