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Oral History Interview

Peg Donley

Interview with Randy Krehbiel, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Although Peg Donley was first introduced to Bowen theory in the mid-1970's at the University of Kansas, the first time she actually met Dr. Bowen was in 1985 when she began the post-graduate program. Hearing him talk was, as she describes it, "a pretty mind-blowing experience!" Over the years, Ms. Donley has focused on learning about relationships and behavior from the perspective of natural sciences – from neuroscience as well as from evolutionary biology and animal studies.

About Ms. Donley

Becoming involved with Bowen theory as a challenge to me personally and professionally. I had recently completed a year long post graduate fellowship at the Menninger Foundation where the emphasis was on Minuchin's Family techniques, which incorporated the use of two-way mirrors and consulting with other therapists during the clinical sessions. All the while, I was working on managing my own life using Bowen theory. For years I was unable to integrate my professional work with my personal work. I struggled with the fact that if Bowen theory was so useful to me, why was I not using it clinically? It wasn't until beginning the postgraduate program that I began to take the steps to integrate Bowen theory into my clinical work.

My interest in science was a significant factor in my connection to Bowen Theory. To me, Dr. Bowen's greatest contribution was his ability to bring in evolution, and the study of natural systems, into the field of mental health. Now, so many years after his death, it is fascinating to see how much of the research coming out of the natural sciences lends substantial support for the theoretical ideas in Bowen theory. No where is this more evident than in the the field of neuroscience.

Bowen theory is the basis of my clinical work — consulting with individuals and couples, as well as my teaching and supervising. I remain committed to studying and learning about the natural sciences as I believe it is the best way to stay neutral and objective about the clinical dilemmas that I see professionally and that I work on personally.

Transcript (185 kb)