About Dr Jenny Brown


Dr Jenny Brown has over 35 years of clinical experience in child, couple, and family health. Her primary clinical and research interest has been in Child and adolescent mental health and parent’s involvement in treatment. This has been reflected in her publications, conference and workshop presentations and her PhD research on parents’ experience of their child’s mental health treatment. The Parent Hope project has been developed from this critical research.

Jenny’s most recent book is Facilitating Parents’ Agency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health: Helplessness to Hope – published by Cambridge Scholars.

Read more

She has worked as a clinician and supervisor in the child and adolescent mental health sector and has been a visiting consultant/trainer for many child mental health teams for some decades. In addition, Jenny has substantial training and clinical experience as a social worker, family therapist and teacher (see below). In 2018 Jenny received the Australian Family Therapy Journal award for distinguished contribution to the field. In 2022 she was awarded the Polly Caskie Research award from the Bowen Centre for the study of the family in Washington DC.

Jenny is Director Emeritus and founder of the Family Systems Institute in Sydney, Australia – that has been providing training and clinical services in Bowen family systems approaches since 2004.

Jenny’s best-selling book “Growing Yourself Up: How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships” is now in its second edition. She has also published a primer on parenting called “Confident Parenting: Restoring Your Confidence as a Parent by Making Yourself the Project and Not Trying to Change Your Child”. Additionally, Jenny has published many articles and book chapters on the applications of family systems theory. Jenny’s teaching has taken her beyond Australian shores to Southeast Asia and North America.

* See Jenny Brown’s publication on her research findings: The relationship between parents’ hope and agency/self-efficacy.

Brown J (2018) Parents’ experiences of their adolescent’s mental health treatment: Helplessness or agency-based hope, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 23:4, pp.644-662.

Education bio: PhD University of New South Wales, Social Science; Master of Science (Social Work) Columbia University New York (Deans award in clinical and fieldwork excellence), Bachelor of Social Studies University of Sydney (University prize in medical Social Work); Advanced Externship in Couple and Family Therapy, Family Institute of Westchester, New York (offered teaching fellowship); 1-year family therapy training at Salvador Minuchin’s Family Studies Institute New York (Part of Columbia University Fieldwork), 1-year systemic supervision training, Tavistock & Portman Trust London; Diploma of Family Therapy, Relationship Australia.

1980s – 2000s

I have been working in the field of child and family health since the early 1980s. My specific work in developing a manualised parenting intervention has evolved since the early 2000s as I have been supervising many teams of professionals in family interventions in child mental health services.


My first iteration of a manualised 6 session parent program based on Bowen family systems theory. (Coming out of many years as a visiting supervisor to the sector and hearing of the challenges and reactivity experienced by clinicians in their interactions with parents of symptom bearers.)


Doctoral research and writing up my thesis on Parent’s Experience of their adolescent’s mental health treatment – this gave me the clarity around parent’s development of agency through a stepping back observation stage to a stepping up process in bringing more self to parenting.


My first pilot of the new edition of the parent manual with a solo clinician at a public adolescent mental health service – monthly meetings/supervision over 18 months. Editing material along the way. Experimenting with parent data collection.

Mid 2018-2019

Pilot of training for 8 clinicians in Sydney with variations in experience – first use of professionally developed manuals (employing a media company and graphic designers to polish the manual presentation). Collecting data from coaches after each session and from parents before and after. Adjusting the training and the manuals based on feedback.

May 2019 – March 2020

2nd pilot with 6 clinicians in Vancouver Canada. The pilots have been less about formal research and more about fine tuning the material and the training content and method.

Sept 2019 – till May 2020

Official training of the 1st group of 8 clinicians – all training and supervision professionally filmed and edited with an online training workbook developed.

March – June 2020

Commencing the first online training package and completing the building of a web site with my contracted media company. Enabling Parent Coaches to give their clients access to extra support resources that complement the manualised programs.