Murray Bowen was a family therapist that gained critical acclaim for this development of theory in psychological practice during the 1970's and 80's. A Murray Bowen term paper notes that because psychological practice during this time focused heavily on the treatment of the patient rather than the psychology behind the treatment, the Bowenian family systems therapy model stands uniquely above other theories that were developed during this same time period. In short, at a time when therapy was the primary mechanism for treating patients with psychological illness, Bowen bucked the system and focused on theory as a primary means to help patients rather than therapy. According to many Murray Bowen research papers, what made Bowen’s work so distinctive was the manner in which he applied his theories throughout his practice and life. Murray Bowen research notes that Bowen passed through three distinct phases in attempting to understand his work and its broader application to the field of family therapy: “Early on his focus was on the application of theory in clinical practice. Later, he concentrated on the therapist’s effort to differentiate a self in the family origin. Still later, Bowen turned his focus in teaching to locating his theory in the context of evolutionary biology and related natural systems thinking”.
Critics of Bowen’s theories and ideologies maintained that his work was useless. As many psychologists of the time were focusing on applying practical theory to the therapeutic treatment of patients, Bowen was attempting to discern how all of his ideas and theories were interconnected and integrated with one another in the practice of psychology. Although Bowen’s work was met with a considerable amount of criticism at the time as Bryannan (1999) notes: “Seen by family therapists as radical at the time, it is now considered to be one of the best ways to help and heal family and personal troubles".