Differentiation in Connection

"I will, from this day strive to forge togetherness out of our differences."

~ Josefa Iloilo

Have you heard of the concept of differentiation? Healthy differentiation, which is the cornerstone of Bowen Family System Therapy, means that you have the ability to maintain a solid sense of self in the midst of the social pressure to conform while also being able to maintain close and meaningful relationships with your family, friends and colleagues.

High and Low Levels of Differentiation


a. If you have a low level of differentiation: you lead your life feeling overwhelmed by your emotions. You act from your emotions without logically thinking about the reality of a situation. As a result your life will feel like a roller coaster with many hardships, instabilities and stresses.

b. If you have a high level of differentiation: your thinking is balanced with your emotions. You express your emotions freely and spontaneously and your actions are based on relevant facts, as well as your values and principles. As you make appropriate decisions that consider yourself along with the people that you share your life with, you will lead a fulfilling life.


a. If you have a low level of differentiation: you will yield to social pressure, and feel easily affected by other people's opinions, judgments and behaviours. You will give up your own opinion in favour of other people's opinions, and you will lose yourself with others.

If you have a low level of differentiation
: you might alternatively be unreasonably contrasting with others, dogmatic and intolerant of other people's differences. If you try to force your thinking and values onto others, you will impose yourself onto others.

b. If you have a high level of differentiation: You will be able to state your "I" position calmly and act according to your chosen values and principles, while enjoying close relationships with people.


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