Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Jered Kolbert

Committee Member

Matthew Bundick

Committee Member

Donald Strano


Bowen, Counseling, Differentiation, DSI-R


Bowen's natural systems theory has been identified as a foundational theory in learning of family processes (Miller, Anderson, & Keala, 2004). Despite the importance of this theory to the counseling profession, there is a lack of research examining the moderators of Bowen's key construct, differentiation of self. There are few studies that explore the effect of demographic variables on levels of differentiation of self. There is also a lack of literature regarding the impact of these demographic moderators on an individual's ability to increase their level of differentiation of self through counseling. This study investigated the impact of counseling on levels of differentiation of self and the moderating role of various demographic variables on differentiation in an adult clinical population. Participants were adults recruited from a community mental health center in northwestern Pennsylvania at their initial presentation for counseling services.

At the initial counseling session demographic questionnaires and Differentiation of Self Inventory-Revised (DSI-R) were administered with a follow-up administration of the DSI-R was conducted three months later. The results indicated a significant increase in overall differentiation of self, as well as in DSI-R subscale scores of Emotional Reactivity and "I" Position. The study also found that changes in differentiation of self varied as a function of age, with the most change occurring for younger (18-25 year old) participants; no other demographic variables were related to changes in differentiation of self. Potential implications for future research and potential explanations for these results are discussed.