A Family at the Point of Growth
by Virginia Satir
Hone your clinical skills by watching one of family therapy’s most esteemed personalities in action. In this video, Virginia Satir consults with a family in the aftermath of a teenage brother’s assault of his sister.
If you’re working with a family recovering from abuse, assessing their progress and identifying next steps can be confounding. You might look at any number of signposts—but how do you know which to prioritize? In this video, renowned family therapist Virginia Satir conducts a tender session with a family in the aftermath of a brother’s assault of his sister. Through her therapeutic warmth and innovative use of experiential interventions, Satir provides a model of how to determine a family’s prognosis, as well as a compelling glimpse into her signature style.

Linda and Jack are a married couple with four children, the two eldest from Linda’s previous marriage. One year prior to their session with Satir, 17-year-old Sean assaulted his 15-year-old sister Michelle, driving the family into therapy. As Sean emerges from his initial period of treatment, the family meets with Satir, who immediately connects with them through naming their individual and collective strengths.

You’ll be awed by Satir’s skill at building authentic rapport with the six members—even the youngest, nonverbal siblings—while illuminating their family dynamics through a series of exercises that emphasize direct communication and empathizing with the other. Her humor and care are readily apparent, as is the degree to which she physically immerses herself in the family unit. Throughout the session, Satir maintains a safe holding environment that supports honest cross-communication, paves the way for deeper connection between the parents, and establishes building blocks for future work.
This is an essential resource for therapists looking to learn more about family systems, assessment, creative interventions, and Satir’s unique, bold approach. Featuring commentary from Satir’s early students and an introduction from Satir herself, this video is a must for your collection.
In Depth
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.

Upon meeting with this family of six, just at the end of son Sean’s yearlong court-ordered therapy after assaulting his younger sister, Satir builds a quick, easy rapport, 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. She then guides Linda and Jack in a dyad exercise in communicating their support of each other, using physical touch to ground them in 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 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:
  • Gain an understanding of Satir’s unique approach to family therapy.
  • Discover ways to create a safe environment for honest communication.
  • Learn how to assess a family’s current and future needs.

Length of video: 1:00:00

English subtitles available

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-452-5

Individual ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-452-9

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-453-3

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-453-6

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.
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