The Virginia Satir Series: 5-Video Series
In The Essence of Change, Satir presents the four stages of therapy to an intimate audience of psychotherapy students, and powerfully demonstrates the principles via numerous role-plays, where you'll get a sense of her disarming warmth, facility in making perceptive statements that resonate with clients, and ability to use touch to deepen a client's sense of safety.
In Of Rocks and Flowers: Dealing with the Abuse of Children, watch Satir conduct an innovative, forward-moving session with a distraught family of four who are struggling with a legacy of abuse.
In A Step Along the Way: Family with a Drug Problem, Satir facilitates a moving and, at times, confrontational session with a family struggling with one member’s longstanding drug addiction.
In A Family at the Point of Growth, learn how Satir makes a family assessment as she leads a tender yet ultimately hopeful session with a family in the aftermath of a brother’s assault of his sister.
In Blended Family with a Troubled Boy, Satir helps a blended family of four untangle longstanding parenting and communication issues, demonstrating how family engagement can be shifted through therapeutic warmth and innovative interventions.
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In this Series...
[Of Rocks and Flowers] Satir’s mastery is in full blossom in this video. Her integrative approach is made explicit, and you’ll see her fearlessness in how she uses touch for connecting and instructing. Watching this video will deepen any therapist commitment to grow competence for working with families.
--Jean McLendon, LCSW, Past President, The Virginia Satir Global Network
In Of Rocks and Flowers, you’ll be impressed with how deeply Virginia Satir engages Bob, Betty, Aaron, and Robbie in a session structured to include the family all together as well as in separate dyads. Bob, a recovering alcoholic, holds custody of Aaron (age 4) and Robbie (age 3), his sons from a previous marriage to a woman who abuses them even as he fights for a restraining order. Bob’s current wife, Betty, would rather leave the family than risk abuse to her coming child with Bob. Satir reflects on the “undercurrent of fear” the family is enduring, and proceeds with a session designed to uncover each family member’s concerns, align their goals, and get them relating in a safe, honest way.
In Blended Family with a Troubled Boy, Satir meets with a family of four seeking help for 16-year-old Tim’s chronic school refusal and a sullen attitude. Through Satir’s deft exploration of Jerry and Elaine’s relationship—as opposed to pathologizing Tim, the family’s “identified patient”—the family gains a new awareness of the parenting issues influencing Tim’s withdrawal. As she gradually uncovers Elaine’s need for relief as a key to restoring everyone’s connection, you’ll get a visceral feeling for the style of work Satir is known for.
In A Step Along the Way: Family with a Drug Problem, Satir briefly introduces her “universal family map”—her didactic method of understanding the various relational configurations within families. Next, she 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.
In A Family at the Point of Growth, Satir builds a quick, easy rapport with a family of six in the aftermath of a teenage brother’s assault of his sister. She then works to understand how each family member learns best—while normalizing each of their different styles—with the goal of assessing how they can support one another in their future growth. Satir guides Linda and Jack in a dyad exercise in communicating their support of each other, using physical touch as a ground during times of stress, and supports Linda in understanding how her views of Jack can be clouded by her projected feelings toward her father.
Nurturing, directive, experiential, and engaged, Satir exhibits a charismatic style across the entire series that’s simultaneously unique and accessible. Additional commentary by Dr. Ramon Corrales, an early student of Satir’s, adds thoughtful context to one of family therapy’s most esteemed clinicians.
By watching these videos, you will:
- Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to family assessment.
- 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 healthy physical touch.
- Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to transformational therapy, including change, coping, and the unknown.
- Understand the Satir’s four stages of therapy, and how to work within them.
- Identify ways to support clients exhibiting various types of resistance.
- Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to therapy with blended families.
- Discover creative interventions to support cross-communication and connection.
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.