Virginia Satir

Virginia Satir

Virginia Satir (26 June 1916 – 10 September 1988) was an American author and therapist, known especially for her approach to family therapy and her pioneering work in the field of family reconstruction therapy. She is widely regarded as the "Mother of Family Therapy".



This famous personality once stated, ‘The family is a microcosm. By knowing how to heal the family, I know how to heal the world’; and so she did. Extraordinary characters often have both routine and notable backgrounds and Virginia Satir was no different. She has justifiably become one of the chief names in the archives of family therapy.

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.


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