A Step Along the Way: A Family with a Drug Problem
by Virginia Satir
Watch one of family therapy’s most highly regarded pioneers in action! In this video, Virginia Satir firmly but lovingly confronts a large family about their son’s longstanding substance abuse.

Part of the 5-video series: The Virginia Satir Series
Conducting family therapy can feel like an impossible juggling act, where complicated dynamics can make effective interventions elusive to the best of us. Successful clinicians must make sense of a family’s needs as a whole, as well as facilitate work within the relationships that impact the entire system. In this video, renowned family therapist Virginia Satir leads a powerful session with a family dealing with substance abuse and codependency. Satir’s natural facility with families is astounding even today, and you’ll gain a deep appreciation of her legacy as she progresses this challenged family several steps closer to resolution.

After introducing her “universal family map,” explaining the various relational configurations within families, Satir conducts a stirring session with a family struggling with the repercussions of 29-year-old son Michael’s longstanding drug addiction. You’ll witness Satir’s skill at building authentic rapport with the five members, while shedding light on their complex family dynamics using a series of hands-on interventions. Even through the intensity and resistance that arises during the interview, Satir maintains a grounded environment that supports honest cross-communication, staying one step ahead of the family in order to address their most pressing relational issues.

Throughout the session, Satir draws upon her considerable intuitive skill to develop interventions in the moment; builds a quick and easy rapport with the family through her plain language, humor, and warmth; physically immerses herself in the family unit as she facilitates experiential constellations; and applies a firm, at times confrontational, attitude toward family members, all while furthering their sense of hope and possibility.

This is an essential resource for therapists looking to learn more about family systems, assessment, creative interventions, and Satir’s unique, bold style. With both commentary and a full-length bonus video from Satir’s early students, plus a didactic introduction from Satir herself, this is a video you’ll enjoy from start to finish.

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Virginia Satir is considered one of family therapy’s preeminent clinicians, and her work with this family is a great example of her warm style and intuitive, interactive approach. With this video, you’ll see why this luminary is still influencing therapists to this day.

First, you’ll watch Satir in a brief lecture introducing her “universal family map”—her didactic method of understanding the various relational configurations within families. Next, Satir conducts a moving session with a family struggling with the repercussions of 29-year-old son Michael’s longstanding drug addiction. You’ll observe Satir’s natural skill at building authentic rapport with the five members, and you’ll get to witness the various creative, experiential methods she employs to shed light on their complex family dynamics. Even through the intensity and resistance that arises during the interview, particularly as mom struggles with her feelings about letting go and moving on, Satir maintains a grounded environment that supports honest cross-communication, staying one step ahead of the family in order to address their most pressing relational issues. Nurturing, directive, and engaged, Satir exhibits a charismatic style that’s simultaneously unique and accessible.

If you’ve been meaning to watch this leading figure in action, you’ll be excited to discover her work now, as part of our comprehensive 5-video Virginia Satir Series.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to therapy with blended families.
  • Understand how a systems therapist can conduct guided sessions with parts of the family unit as well as the whole.
  • Identify creative interventions to support cross-communication and connection.

Length of video: 01:03:30

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-450-9

Individual ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-450-5

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-451-7

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-451-2

Virginia Satir is one of the key figures in the development of family therapy. She believed that a healthy family life involved an open and reciprocal sharing of affection, feelings, and love. Satir made enormous contributions to family therapy in her clinical practice and training. She began treating families in 1951 and established a training program for psychiatric residents at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute in 1955.

Satir served as the director of training at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto from 1959-66 and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur beginning in 1966. In addition, Satir gave lectures and led workshops in experiential family therapy across the country. She was well-known for describing family roles, such as "the rescuer" or "the placator," that function to constrain relationships and interactions in families. She is also known for creating the Virginia Satir Change Process Model, a psychological model developed through clinical studies.

Satir's genuine warmth and caring was evident in her natural inclination to incorporate feelings and compassion in the therapeutic relationship. She believed that caring and acceptance were key elements in helping people face their fears and open up their hearts to others. Above all other therapists, Satir's was the most powerful voice to wholeheartedly support the importance of love and nurturance as being the most important healing aspects of therapy. Unfortunately, Satir's beliefs went against the more scientific approach to family therapy accepted at that time, and she shifted her efforts away from the field to travel and lecture. Satir died in 1988 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Her most well-known books are Conjoint Family Therapy, 1964, Peoplemaking, 1972, and The New Peoplemaking, 1988.

See all Virginia Satir videos.

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to therapy with blended families.
  • Understand how a systems therapist can conduct guided sessions with parts of the family unit as well as the whole.
  • Identify creative interventions to support cross-communication and connection.
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