Deﬁ ning a Self in Family, Profession, and Society
Differentiation of self, the cornerstone concept in Bowen theory, is a universal human process-the integration of the instinctual forces of individuality and togetherness. This process is usually complete by the time a young adult leaves home. Deﬁ ning a self refers to the intentional activity of an individual, usually under the auspices of coach or consultant trained in Bowen theory, of differentiating a self in his or her family-the nuclear family, family of origin, and extended family. The terms differentiating a self and deﬁ ning a self are essentially synonymous (Bowen, 1978a, p. 541).