Family Systems and Virginia Satir

Topics: Family therapy, Domestic violence, Self-esteem Pages: 7 (2435 words) Published: September 9, 2012
Family Systems and Virginia Satir


The below essay is exploring Family Systems and Family Therapy and in relation to that it is looking at Virginia Satir. The first part is trying to define the term Family System itself. It gives a very brief overview on the characeristics of a family system and how such a system relates and co-relates to the enviorment. It also gives a short description of the dynamics and dimensions of family systems - cohesion and hierarchy. The second part of this text is looking at Virginia Satir's view on the dynamics of a family system. It explains her thesis how the hierarchy or power structure in a family relates directly to the development of character in a person. Virginia Satir is best know for her thoughts on self esteem and her theory of human validation. Part three briefly describes her theories. Part four is talking about the circumstances under which Virginia Satir discovered the power of family therapy. Virginia Satir tried to focus on the human validation process in her practise in family therapy sessions. Part five describes the idea of family therapy using the approach of human validation, and how a healthy family member should function, as well as what is important for a well functioning family. Part six contain a few words of my personal thoughts and assumptions on Virginia Satir's theories. In this part i am also trying to apply Virginia Satir's thesis of human validation to a client i am currently seeing. Part seven is mentioning some researchs in relation to Family systems, structure of the same, the ill-effect of communication issues within a family and research within the aspect of domestic violence. Part eight are some concluding comments about family therapy in general.

1) Defining a Family System

Families are characterised by features such as intimacy, generational differentiation and continuity. They are organised systems that are conditioned by their enviorment, which in turn, receives input from these systems. Interdependent changes always occur in relation to time and therefore interpretation of processes should always include the past, the present and the future. Cohesion and hierarchy are the two fundamental diemnsions that describe the interpersonal structure of a family system. Cohesion includes the reulation of both, closeness and distance between family members. In respect to family systems cohesion is defined as the extend to which family members are organized as a coherent whole. Hierarchy may be referred to authorothy, decision-making power or the amount of influence exercised by one family member over another or the flexibility of roles and rules within the family. (Thomas M Gehring, Marianne Debry, Peter K Smith, 2001, pg 3-4)

2) Virginia Satir on Family Dynamics

Virginia Satir's basic thesis was that one learns within it's family particular behaviour, beliefs, a well as methods of coping with each other. She believed that information is transmitted not only verbally, but through all our senses. Dissonances for example arrise when facial expressions, gestures or other bodylanguage do not match the spoken words. Satir also believed that each family over generations passes on beliefs and morals that are absorbed consciously and unconsciously. One part of Satir's focus was directed towards the power structure of a family. Character is developed in the process of lerning to survive and cope with one's particular family. The dichotomy of dependency and autonomy is often a survival issue. Furthermore Satir believed that in each of these primary methods of survival there are somatic correlations. That means meanwhile during the process of self preservation one learns to placate, blame, compute or distract, but at the same time the stress of maintaining this characteristic mode of behaviour is felt physically and adds or intensifies particular bodily weaknesses and illnesses. The Satir Family System is emphasizing that a family...

References: Jon Louis Winek (2009). Systemic family therapy: from theory to practice, CA, USA: Sage, Pg 34
Herbert Goldenberg, Irene Goldenberg (2008). Family Therapy: An Overview, Seventh Edition, CA, USA: Thomson Higher Education, Pg 222-223
Thomas M Gehring, Marianne Debry, Peter K Smith (2001). The Family System Test FAST: theory and application, East Sussex GB: Brunner-Routledge, Pg 3-5
Phyllis Erdman and Tom Caffery (2003). Attachment and Family Systems, New York USA/ East Sussex GB: Brunner-Routledge, Pg
Barbara Jo Brothers (1991). Virginia Satir: Foundational Ideas, London GB: The Haworth Press, Inc, pg 21-23, 142-144
Alan Carr (2006). Family Therapy: Concepts, Process and Practise, West Sussex GB: John
Wiley & Sons Ltd, pg 3
Gerald Corey (2009). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, CA USA: Thomson Brooks/ Cole, pg 416
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