Our Guest Speaker for 2020

Daniel PaperoDan Papero, Ph.D., LCSW-C, LISCW

Dr. Dan Papero is an internationally recognized leader in presenting Bowen Theory to audiences. He became acquainted with Dr. Murray Bowen when attending a workshop at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In 1975 he began a five-year course of study in The Special Postgraduate Training Program at the Family Center in Georgetown, DC. During that time, he attained his Masters of Social Work. In 1982 he accepted a Faculty position at The Center where he has served as Director of Clinical Training, Director of Advanced Research Seminar in Bowen Theory and now continues as Senior Faculty. Dr. Papero has studied, taught and practiced Bowen Family Systems Theory for forty-five years. 

Dr. Papero goes beyond knowledge of Bowen Theory as he applies his studies in brain physiology and function in the application of Bowen Theory to the human condition. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of family systems theory and family psychotherapy and, in 1990, published Bowen Family Systems Theory. This book serves as the primary textbook for students in our 2020-21 BTEC Training Program. He serves on the editorial board of Family Systems and of the Family Business Client. 

In recent years he has consulted with organizations in both the private and public sectors, with a focus on the impact of relationships on functioning and the emotional process of organizations. Dr. Papero conducts an active Clinical and Consulting Practice in Washington, DC. He maintains a continuing involvement in the study of Bowen Theory and the field of Human Behavior and is a regular speaker at the Fall and Spring Bowen Symposia in Washington.

As humanity enters the third decade of the 21st century, problems compound to create a cascade of crises, undermining human optimism, threatening lives and well-being, and producing deep uncertainty about the future of human survival itself. Deep polarizations pit neighbor against neighbor, community against community, and faith group against faith group. Although long predicted by epidemiologists, the sudden emergence of Covid19 has caught populations and governments unprepared and ill-informed, further driving anxiety and impairing effective response. Fearfulness has increased along with stress, as individuals and families face real and imagined dangers. 

Bowen outlined the predictable human response— to focus on emergent problems as isolated aberrations rather than predictable markers of underlying systems dilemmas, to respond with quick-fix answers that relieve the tension of the moment but do little to address the underlying complex challenges, and to relax back into complacency as the problems compound in the background until they re-emerge in another problem. He proposed that such ineffective responses will continue until the cost of continuing them outweighs the cost associated with change. 

All efforts to respond to challenge begin with one’s own functioning in the immediate context of one’s life. Bowen theory provides guidelines for functioning more effectively and efficiently in responding to challenge. It highlights the role of the family as a unit or system as central in the effort to address larger societal challenges. Change occurs when a person can make and sustain a small improvement in functioning. If sustained, the small change one person makes can resonate through the larger system, leading to broader change. A number of small sustained changes can lead to tipping points, a major shift in the functioning of the individual and the relationship networks in which he or she is embedded.