The Essence of Change
by Virginia Satir
Watch renowned psychotherapist Virginia Satir present her pioneering views on the essential ingredients of successful therapy to a group of four students.

Part of the 5-video series: The Virginia Satir Series
Virginia Satir is considered one of the early innovators of family therapy, but her pioneering techniques and heart-centered approach continue to influence new generations of practitioners. Watch Satir conduct an enlightening, interactive lecture on “the essence of change” with a small group of students, and see why this 20th-century clinician is still relevant and beloved by a devoted, international audience.

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. The therapist’s role, she advises, is to create the safest environment for a client to move from their internalized “status quo” into the vulnerable unknown—a requirement for anyone wanting to let go of old conditioning and experience a new way of being. You’ll enjoy how her students engage with the material, asking smart questions about client ambivalence, intellectualization, and anxiety’s role in motivation.

Knowledgeable yet accessible, relational, and masterful in her communication, Satir outlines the need for a client to trust their therapist, offers experiential ways of understanding and working with client resistance, and describes the nature of trust, choice, and a client’s sense of chaotic “limbo” that can arise during the therapeutic process.

Over the course of the lecture, Satir manages to distill broad concepts into practical tools for growth. By the end of this video, you’ll be as impressed as her students and armed with a fresh perspective on clinical work. Beginning and seasoned therapists alike will find thoughtful takeaways in her overview of the essential tasks of therapy and the empathic, nurturing stance that allows for safety and transformation.

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What therapists are saying…

"As therapist, teacher and change artist, Virginia Satir explicates her process of change conceptually and experientially. The viewer observes and experiences the power of her empathetic and grounding commitment to the possibility of positive change for all people. Equally inspiring and informative, this video should be required viewing for all students and professionals who seek to lead people in the process of positive, intentional change."

-- Jean McLendon, LCSW, Past President, The Virginia Satir Global Network
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You’ll wish you had Virginia Satir as your own teacher after witnessing this charismatic pioneer in front of her students. Nancy, Deacon, Sid, and Jana have come for an intimate lecture in which Satir outlines “the essence of therapy,” a primer on the four stages of therapeutic change. Addressing coping, going into the unknown, the “status quo,” safety, and experimentation with new ways of being, Satir offers her students—and all of us—a delightful presentation complete with examples from her own practice and experiential exercises that illustrate her ideas.

If you’ve ever wanted to watch this leading figure in action but have resisted the high price tag for her series of videos, you’ll be excited to discover her work now, at a much more reasonable cost. This video will give you a solid sense of Satir’s role in the evolution of psychotherapy and convey her reflections on the work’s most compelling ingredients in a warm, accessible way.

By watching this video, you will:
  • 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

Length of video: 00:58:55

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in All Regions

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-374-X

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-375-8

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 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
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