Virginia Satir at the first Satir Family Camp. Pacific Palisades, California Photo: Lynne Azpeitia

I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen by them, heard by them, to be understood and touched by them.
— Virginia Satir

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A Portrait of Virginia Satir

By Lynne Azpeitia 

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 exqusite 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, Couple and Family Sculpting 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, 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 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'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 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 two decades ago.

It should be noted that while I learned at the feet of Virginia Satir, I also have had a great deal of training and exposure to other great teachers in the field of family therapy and psychology.  My professional training and education has included mastery of multiple approaches to working with individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations. 

As a therapist, graduate professor and supervisor of 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.

If you're interested in Lynne speaking to your group or organization or perhaps conducting a workshop, seminar or class contact Lynne today.

Lynne Azpeitia, MFT
3025 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404 

Coaching, Psychotherapy & Consultation 

Contact Lynne About Her Services

Coaching, Counseling & Consulting Services Also Available by Phone & Skype

Click here for Books on Virginia Satir


Lynne Azpeitia
Licensed MFT 
AAMFT Approved Supervisor


I proceed from the theory that my therapeutic job is to expand, redirect, and reshape individuals’ ways of coping with each other and themselves, so they can solve their own problems in more healthy and relevant ways.
— VIrginia Satir

Virginia  Satir: A Short Story
John Banmen
Virginia Satir has deservedly become one of the more  common names in the annals of family therapy. During her early professional  years, she was part of a small group, including other such luminaries as  Ackerman and Bowen, who made family therapy a major alternative to the existing  therapeutic systems of the day. She was a master teacher who carried her   message around the world...More


Videotape Reviews -- Virginia Satir: The Use of Self in Therapy
Bunny S. Duhl 
For anyone who has not seen Virginia Satir at work, The Use of Self in Therapy is a lovely introductory tape. Dr. Dewitt Baldwin, Jr., Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at University of Nevada Medical School, as well as Satir's colleague and friend, provides commentary on the clips shown, explaining and expanding how Satir used the person of the therapist in her therapy....More

Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy In Brief
John & Kathlyne Banmen
 From observing Satir’s therapeutic work and analyzing her words, five therapeutic process elements have been identified that are essential for the therapy to create transformational change, a significant energetic shift.  These therapeutic elements are necessarily present throughout the entire therapy session...More