Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Getting Paid: Training with the Masters:
Portrait of Virginia Satir
Virginia Satir was one of the most imaginative and creative teachers and therapists that I have ever met. Learning from her was truly an experience of living life fully. You never knew what was going to happen next once Virginia started working with someone but you could always be certain that you would learn a lot about yourself, people in general, and how Virginia worked. It was very exciting to learn from her and to be a part of the development and unfolding of her work.
Virginia Satir was my teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. Our association continued for 15 years until her death. She was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known.
Virginia made doing complex and profound things seem easy and simple with her exquisite skills, positive, ‘can do’ attitude, and her willingness to go to new places with people.
When Virginia began to work with someone, she would listen for a while, share with them what she was understanding about them and what they were interested in having happen; then she would say something like “Let’s start right here by doing this, and then we’ll see what happens next. How would that be?” The next thing you knew you were off on a learning adventure with Virginia as guide.
Whenever Virginia started working you either watched from your seat or were selected to take a more active part right there in the action with her. She often orchestrated scenes of past, present or future interchanges and ideas that came alive as members of the audience were elected to represent and enact the key elements, dynamics or people involved.
This Satir theatre provided the star, Virginia’s term for client, because “we are all the stars of our own lives,” with a dynamic, externalized view of their internal pictures, models, and experiences that could be looked at, commented on, explored, and experimented with. New perspectives, choices and decisions were always a result of this work. The Parts Party, Family Reconstruction, and Individual, Couple, and Family Sculpting are a few of The Satir Model’s vehicles that utilize this process, as do the Communication Stances Virginia is most widely known for.
As Virginia guided the star through the experience of watching the sculpture or enactment as it unfolded under her expert direction, she would periodically stop the action and have the star, or the people role playing, or the audience, comment on their experience, thoughts or feelings through her expert facilitation.
It was through these seemingly casual and random interchanges that profound realizations, information, and awareness would surface, which Virginia would then expertly weave back into the work. Doing this allowed the experience and information to become integrated into the star’s conscious awareness.
It was by using this type of relating and processing that Virginia was able to create the conditions for a transformation to take place—a change that would have lasting effects on the star, the people role playing, the audience, and, ultimately, Virginia herself. In the Satir Model, the guide benefits, learns, and grows right along with the star.
The art of The Satir Model, which began first with Virginia facilitating these interactions and exchanges, is in how the Satir guide uses his or her self in relation to the star, the role players, and the audience and manifests these interchanges, surfacing the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, expectations, and yearnings during this orchestrated learning experience. How the Satir guide harvests the learnings during and after the enactment or sculpture further brings into awareness what has transpired as well as information and new discoveries that can be utilized again by the star to make more fitting choices in the future.
Virginia Satir was a genius. Her ways of working with and understanding people are some of the best in the world. The Satir Model is easily taught, learned, understood, and used by clients, professionals, the business community, and the general public throughout the world. Her customizable universal formulas and practical, down to earth tools and methods are effective with a wide range of people and cultures, and provide immediate and lasting results that can be replicated.
The Satir Model is one of the most comprehensive, multi-dimensional, practical and effective therapy and change approaches around. It helps people understand themselves and each other, heal their wounds and transform their lives.
The Satir Model produces rapid results and encourages a proactive approach to life. It also provides human systems with a guide to what is needed to support healthy human relationships, navigate change, and create systems of interaction and community that support the growth and development of the person as well as the business or organization.
The transformational processes of The Satir Model are easily explainable, understandable, learnable and transferable. Virginia Satir’s approach works equally well with therapy, business, education, creative pursuits, and many other areas of human systems interaction. The tools, teachings, principles and practices that Virginia Satir developed are timeless, and are, perhaps, an even better fit today than when she when she first began teaching and using them. The Positive Psychology Movement and the Interpersonal Neurobiology approach are currently using science and research to illustrate and support core teachings and practices that are quite similar to those that Virginia developed, used, and taught more than four decades ago.
As a therapist, graduate professor, and supervisor of psychotherapists and marriage and family therapists, I’ve learned, practiced, and become proficient at teaching, training, supervising, and doing therapy with the major and minor therapeutic theories and approaches. My esteem for The Satir Model is a result of my lifelong study of the best human and organizational growth, change and transformation systems.
Virginia Satir succeeded greatly with the body of knowledge she pioneered while she was with us. The legacy that she left us, her tools, teachings and practices that are the Satir Model, are as reliable as having Virginia herself present. Experience this for yourself.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping them develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
This article originally appeared in a Virginia Satir Global Celebration Publication and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
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