Satir Model Counselling for Individuals, Couples & Families

The Satir courses below are open only to those who have completed the previous levels.We are now taking names for those interested in future Satir courses.

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Virginia Satir (26 June 1916 - 10 September 1988) is internationally recognised as the ‘Mother’ of family therapy. Her work was original and innovative, having a huge influence on psychotherapy and social work practice. Her most well-known books are Conjoint Family Therapy, 1964, Peoplemaking, 1972, and The New Peoplemaking, 1988. As her reputation grew, she travelled the world to speak on her methods as a Diplomate of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and recipient of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's Distinguished Service Award.

She is also known for creating the ‘Virginia Satir Change Process Model’, a psychological model which was developed through clinical studies. Change management and organizational gurus of the 1990s and 2000s have embraced this model to define how change impacts organizations.

After graduating school, Satir began working in private practice. She met with her first family clients in 1951, and by 1955 was working with Illinois Psychiatric Institute, encouraging other therapists to focus on families instead of individual patients. By the end of the decade she had moved to California, where she cofounded the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California. MRI received a grant from NIMH in 1962, allowing them to begin the first formal family therapy training program ever offered.


One of Satir's most novel ideas at the time, was that the "presenting issue" or surface problem itself was seldom the real problem; rather, it was how people coped with the issue that created the problem. Satir also offered insights into the particular problems that low self-esteem could cause in relationships.

Long interested in the idea of networking, Satir founded two groups to help individuals find mental health workers or to establish support groups with other people who were suffering from similar issues to their own. In 1970, she organized ‘Beautiful People’, which later became known as the International Human Learning Resources Network. In 1977 she founded the Avanta Network. 


Satir was appointed to the Steering Committee of the International Family Therapy Association and became a member of the Advisory Board for the National Council for Self-Esteem. She received several honorary doctorates, including a 1978 doctorate in Social Sciences from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a 1986 doctorate from the Professional School of Psychological Studies.

Honors and Awards Received

  • 1976 Awarded Gold Medal of "Outstanding and Consistent Service to Mankind" by the University of Chicago.
  • 1978 Awarded honorary doctorate in Social Sciences from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • 1982 Selected by the West German Government as one of the 12 most influential leaders in the world today.
  • 1985 Time magazine quotes a colleague, “She can fill any auditorium in the country”, after her stellar contribution to the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 1985 Selected by the prestigious National Academy of Practice as one of two members to advise on health concerns to the Congress of the United States.
  • 1986 Selected as member of the International Council of Elders, a society developed by the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1987 Named Honorary Member of the Czechoslovakian Medical Society.
  • She was honored in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction.
    In two national surveys of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists, she was voted the most influential therapist.

    Satir’s entire body of work was developed under the umbrella of ‘Becoming More Fully Human’. From the possibility of a nurturing primary triad of father, mother, and child she conceived a process of Human Validation. She continually planted the seeds of hope toward world peace. As she said (Align, 1988, p. 20): "The family is a microcosm. By knowing how to heal the family, I know how to heal the world." With this overview she established professional training groups in the Satir Model in the Middle East, the Orient, Western and Eastern Europe, Central and Latin America, and Russia. The Institute for International Connections, Avanta Network, and the International Human Learning Resources Network are concrete examples of teaching people how to connect with one another and then extend the connections. Her world impact could be summed up in her universal mantra: peace within, peace between, peace among.

    In the mid-1970s Satir’s work was extensively studied by the co-founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who used it as one of the three fundamental models on which NLP was based. Bandler and Grinder also collaborated with Satir to author Changing With Families for Science and Behavior Books, which bore the subtitle 'A Book About Further Education for Being Human'. The Satir Global Network, originally named AVANTA, is an international organization that carries on her work and promotes her approach to family therapy.

    Steve Andreas, one of Bandler and Grinder's students, wrote Virginia Satir: the patterns of her magic (1991) in which he summarized the major patterns of Satir's work, and then showed how Satir applied them in a richly annotated verbatim transcript of a videotaped session titled "Forgiving Parents". In this session, Satir works with a woman who hated her mother, and had difficulty connecting with others as a result. Using a variety of role-plays, including a "family reconstruction", (Systemic Constellations) this woman came to see her mother as her "best friend", as detailed in a 3½ year follow-up interview


        • Satir V (2001). Self Esteem. Berkeley, Calif: Celestial Arts. ISBN 1-58761-094-9.
        • Satir V (1976). Making contact. Berkeley, Calif: Celestial Arts. ISBN 0-89087-119-1.
        • Satir V; Bandler R; Grinder J (1976). Changing with families: a book about further education for being human. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. ISBN 0-8314-0051-X.
        • Satir V (1978). Your many faces. Berkeley, Calif: Celestial Arts. ISBN 0-89087-120-5.
        • Satir V; Stachowiak J; Taschman HA (1994). Helping Families to Change. Northvale, N.J: Jason Aronson. ISBN 1-56821-227-5.
        • Satir V (1983). Conjoint family therapy. Palo Alto, CA: Science & Behavior Books. ISBN 0-8314-0063-3.
        • Satir V; Baldwin M (1983). Satir step by step: a guide to creating change in families. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. ISBN 0-8314-0068-4.
        • Satir V (1988). The new peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science & Behavior Books. ISBN 0-8314-0070-6.
        • Satir V; Gomori M; Banmen J; Gerber JS (1991). The Satir model: family therapy and beyond. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. ISBN 0-8314-0078-1.
        • Satir V (1972/1990 reissue). Peoplemaking. Souvenir Press Ltd. ISBN 0285648721.

    Dr Maria Gomori - Director of Training for the Satir Professional Development Institute.

    Dr Maria Gomori, M.S.W., Dip.C., Ph.D., has a long and disciplined background in the field of family therapy and has made significant contributions to the fields of psychiatric and social work training. Maria is an Approved Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and a retired Associate Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Manitoba. She worked intensively with Virginia Satir for over 20 years, including co-authoring books, and has been a faculty member and advanced trainer at the Virginia Satir Global Network (formerly Avanta) since 1981.

    Maria has established an international reputation as a workshop leader, teaching and demonstrating in workshops throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. Maria has been presenting her legendary Journey to the Self courses at The Haven Institute on Gabriola Island since 1992. These courses are her own unique and creative integration of her abundant life-experiences, Satir’s work, and her learnings from many other great teachers.

    Maria’s remarkable life is documented in her biography “Passion for Freedom: Maria’s Story.” In addition, Maria co-authored with Virginia Satir and colleagues “The Satir Approach to Communication” and the “Satir Model - Family Therapy and Beyond.” The Satir Model book was chosen by the AAMFT Foundation for the 1994 Satir Education and Research Prize. Maria's latest achievement is her new book "Personal Alchemy: The Art of Satir Family Reconstruction", which she co-authored with Eleanor Adaskin. The book's first release is expected to be at the end of 2008 in China.

    PAT BRAGG - President of the Satir Professional Development Institute

    Pat has extensive experience in education and counselling gained over 35 years and has facilitated group training for personal and professional growth for adults since 1976.  She is a counsellor, mediator, trainer, coach, and educator, both in private practice and with the business sector. Pat is the former Dean of Developmental Studies (including International Programs) at Yukon College and the former Executive Director of Yukon Family Services Association Family Counselling Agency. 

    Pat’s qualifications include degrees in counselling and education. She has also been certified in negotiation and mediation skills through the Justice Institute of British Columbia’s Conflict Resolution Program and has been trained in Child Protection Mediation, working as an Advisor to the Family Courts. She fulfilled an intensive internship with, and was certified by, Dr. Maria Gomori. She has presented her work supporting families at the national level at many conferences over the past 20+ years and uses Satir processes in every aspect of her professional and personal life. 

    Pat’s current work is primarily as a family mediator and counsellor in Winnipeg, Canada, where she specialises in guiding Family Reconstructions, which represent the pinnacle of Satir’s work, in which all the many processes are used conjointly. She works closely with Dr Maria Gomori, providing training through the Satir Professional Development Institute for therapists, including those on Master’s degree courses in the Aurora Family Therapy program through the University of Winnipeg. Pat also leads workshops for professionals to learn the Satir processes, since these are highly effective in counselling, working with organisational conflict, and in family mediation. 

    This 5-day Foundation Training has been designed to provide a ‘stand alone’ course for continuing professional development for counsellors and therapists, social workers, health professionals and educators with appropriate experience. For those who wish to obtain further qualifications, the course constitutes 20% of the full Certificate in the Satir Model of Counselling for Individuals, Couples and Families. 

    Participants will gain a basic understanding of the key pieces of Satir's processes in the 5 days. Those who wish to integrate the learning and be able to use Satir's processes effectively in their work, may continue with further training to focus on practicing and using the model with clients and on the ‘Family Reconstruction’ process. If there is a viable group who wish to continue to take the remaining modules (4 x 5-days, which can also be delivered as double modules) over the next year or so and obtain the full Certificate in Satir Model Counselling, we are willing to organise this. The Certificate is accredited by the Canadian Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association (CCPA) for 175 CEU credits, at 35 CEU credits per module. The course also constitutes a substantial element of the Master’s degree in Marriage Guidance and Family Therapy run by the University of Winnipeg at the campus-based Aurora Centre for Family Therapy.

    Although Satir is well-known and celebrated for her work with groups and families, the course will explore how her methods can be modified to be more relevant to the day-to-day work of those counsellors, therapists, social workers, health professionals, and those whose practice involves seeing clients individually in their consulting rooms.

    Certificate in Satir Model Counselling for Individuals, Couples and Families

    Virginia Satir’s Change Process Model can be applied when working with individuals, couples and families, as well as within organisations. It’s an ideal model for providing structure in work that is notoriously difficult to conduct successfully, and for which there are very few suitable training courses to prepare therapists and counsellors to work with couples and families.

    Each Module is 35 hours or 5 days long and is accredited for 35 CEU units with the CCPA, the total Certificate constitutes 5 x 5-day modules:

    Module One: Foundations in the Satir Model

        • Overview of the Satir Model: Meta Goals and Objectives
        • Satir’s Communication Model: The Coping Stances/Defenses
        • The Learning Triad in the family unit
        • Family Rules: transforming into guidelines
        • Mapping the Person/Family/Organization
        • The 7 Ingredients of all interactions
        • Understanding Congruence
        • Using Sculpting in family reconstruction
        • Dealing with Chaos in the process of change

    Module Two: Developing Competence In Satir Communication Processes for Couples and Families

        • Using the Temperature Reading Model
        • Communication Model – Using with couples and families
        • Coping Stances
        • Ingredients of an Interaction
        • Dealing with Anger
        • Practicing the Foundational Skills

    Module Three:  Knowing Your Whole Client

        • Developing Skill in using the Using the Iceberg Model
        • Relating Iceberg to Family Map 
        • Use of Self in Counselling
        • The Role of the Therapist
        • Being Congruent: Dealing with low self-esteem and the “dark” emotions: fear, anger, hurt, powerlessness 

    Module Four: Exploring the Family

        • Understanding Multi-Generational Family Systems
        • Going Deeper with the Coping Stances and congruence
        • Exploring Family Rules to understand current barriers to change
        • Dealing with Unmet Expectations- the source of anger and depression

    Module Five: Sculpting and Family Reconstruction

        • Determining the Sculpt
        • Utilizing the Role Players
        • Balancing Guiding and Following the “Star”
        • Closure
        • Debriefing and Follow-up

    MORE DETAIL ON MODULE 1 follows:

    The Foundation Course curriculum will cover the following:

    Overview of the Satir Model:

        • understanding Satir's philosophy
        • becoming more fully human
        • ways of perceiving the world
        • use of self in therapy

    1. The Coping Stances/Defenses

        • Using coping stances for diagnosis, assessment, and planning for change
        • Understanding the steps towards congruence
        • Transforming responses from survival-based coping to balance and growth

    2. Chaos: dealing with chaos as an expected component in the process of change 

    3. The Learning Triad: using the fundamental family unit as a key to ongoing learning

    4. Mapping the Person/Family/Organisation

        • The Family Map:using the two generational family map to discover patterns of belief, rules and values, as well as life fact chronology. 
        • To learn to see parents and grandparents/others as human beings 

    5. Family Rules: identifying and transforming family 'rules' into guidelines

    6.  Ingredients of Interactions

        • identifying the seven basic ingredients of all interactions
        • planning interventions to enhance communication and congruence

    8. The 'Iceberg'   

        • uncovering yearnings
        • expectations
        • perceptions
        • feelings
        • feelings about feelings
        • coping skills
        • transforming beliefs about the self to bring about new possibilities. 

    9. Sculpting will be demonstrated throughout the course using examples from the participant group.  

        An abbreviated family reconstruction may be done on the last day.