The mother of family therapy, Virginia Satir was an American author and psychotherapist known for her significant works to the cause of family therapy. Her most well known and widely read books include Conjoint Family Therapy (1964), Peoplemaking (1972), and The New Peoplemaking, (1988). Virginia Satir is also the creator of the Virginia Satir Change Process Model, a psychological model developed through clinical studies. The model is still widely used by organizational gurus to define the impact of change.
A very bright child, Virginia Satir was born on June 26, 1916 in Neillsville, Wisconsin. She died on September 10, 1988. Virginia learned to read and write herself. She spent a curious childhood and from very early on in life understood that many people were not what they appeared to be. After moving to Milwaukee with her family, Satir undertook training at the Milwaukee State Teachers College while working side by side at Gimbel’s Department Store. Satir began her own private practice right after graduation. In a short span of a few years, Virginia was offered a position at the Illinois Psychiatric Institute where she addressed and taught the importance of dealing with the whole family during treatment instead of the individual client. Satir believed that problems of an individual stretched to the whole family and also stemmed from the family.
After spending several years at the Illinois Psychiatric Institute, Virginia Satir settled in California where she continued to work and focus on family therapy with like-minded colleagues. In California, Satir also founded the Mental Research Institute. Continuing to work for the cause of family therapy, Satir pioneered in conducting training sessions to specifically teach family therapy techniques. This led Virginia Satir to become the Training Director. Virginia used her expertise and experience to coordinate and deliver teachings of the program to psychologists throughout the United States.
All of Virginia Satir’s work is classified under the umbrella of Becoming More Fully Human. Virginia conceived the process and concept of Human Validation. Her approach to therapy was unique and from a new perspective. She did not believe in seeing a client’s issue as a problem. According to Virginia, a problem is the result of how a client copes with a particular issue, whether it is current or from the past. Based on the courses she delivered at the Mental Research Institute, Satir published the book, Conjoint Family Therapy. The book gained popularity and recognition all over the world making Virginia and her theories popular. Her achievements were also recognized by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Academy of Certified Social Workers.
Virginia Satir also created the Satir Change Process Model, a method of change derived from her own clinical experiences and trials. The model is widely used in the corporate world today to understand the effects of change. Devoting her life to helping people with mental problems, Virginia Satir created many organizations to bring people with similar issues together. These organizations include Beautiful People and the Avanta Network. The influence of Satir’s research and work can be seen even today in modern psychotherapy, neurolinguistics and family constellations.