Communication/Validation Process Model espoused by Virginia Satir

  • All behavior is oriented toward growth even if it appears distorted.
  • Congruent communication is straight and direct on both the verbal and nonverbal levels.
  • Noncongruent communication is distorted, incomplete. It involves assumptions or ambiguous double messages (mixed messages).

Satir noticed five commonly played family roles which characterize a style of communication:

    1. The blamer who finds fault, name calls, and is ripe with criticism.
    2. The computer who intellectualizes and shows little affect.
    3. The distractor who brings up irrelevancies to take the focus away from the issue.
    4. The leveler who engages in honest, direct, clear communication.
    5. The placatory who is apologetic, tentative, and self-effacing (sometimes appears like a martyr).


Family sculpting- physically arrange the members of the family to represent the person’s symbolic view of  family relationships

Family Maps: Like genograms are created over 3 generations. Mother’s family of origin, father’s, and current family.

Ropes: The binds and pulls of ropes are used to provide concrete representations of family dynamics.

Family Life Fact Chronology:  A complete family history is made extending from the birth of the oldest grandparents to the present

Drama:  Family members enact significant events in the family’s history, providing an opportunity for new perspective and greater insight.

Family Reconstruction:  Like the drama, this enactment can involve events based on information but not direct experience.

Reframing:  A reinterpretation of a situation to create a shift in perceptions. The therapist decreases the threat of blame by accentuating the idea of puzzlement and the idea of good intentions.


Verbalizing Presuppositions: The therapist overtly states presuppositions that are evident in a family’s behavior.  For ex., Satir would verbalize the hope and expectation for change that a family manifests by being involved in therapy.

Denominalization:  The therapist has a family member provide specific behavioral descriptions for words such as love and respect and discovers exactly what must be done for the person to perceive that he or she is receiving the behavior that is defined. The clarified answer often is related by using words that speak to the individual’s primary sensory-based representational system (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).

Anchoring:  Serves to bring feelings to the level of interpersonal physical experience. Example—Satir might ask a wife to look at her husband and “feel what you feel. When a positive response becomes evident, i.e., altered breathing, tear, Satir would touch her shoulder gently at the peak of positive emotion. Apparently this helps connect the particular emotion with the touch which makes the feeling more concrete for the individual.

Solution-Focused Family Therapy- Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. They came from Milwaukee and started the Brief Family Therapy Center.

Philosophy- change is inevitable and constant. A future orientation is primary in therapy. Only look to the past to get ideas about what previously worked. Foucs on what is possible and changeable. Minimal steps are necessary to initiate change and oce the process is started, the client will take charge. The emphasis is on action, not on insight or affect. Solution-focused therapy is not problem focused; it does not differentiate or characterize functional and dysfunctional families.

Techniques include:

Deconstruction- Therapist questions client’s frame of reference especially if the complaint is global. Break down the complaint into smaller issues so that they appear less overwhelming.

Change talk: Therapist gives the clients a directive to “DO Something Different” It’s a vague directive which allows client to find something that will work for him/her.

Looking for Exceptions:  When the problem is not existent, what’s different?

Circular Questions are used to gather info about members’ beliefs, feelings, and behavior, e.g. If your sister were to get married, who would miss her the most? Would your Does Dad agree with your sister or with your mother more? What has kept… from hearing (responding to )your complaint?

Normalizing: When clients assume their response is the only logical one, therapist may suggest that lots of people in your situation would…

Tracking: Therapist gives immediate, positive, verbal and non verbal feedback that shows clients they’ve been understood.

Use the clients’ language

Note Taking- during the session to record comments and stress the importance of their words. The therapist is not the expert and must be taught by the family what they think and feel about the situation.

Recruiting an audience:  Worker asks the family about the audience that may have witnessed changes they have made since the start of therapy.

Coping Questions

Gossiping: Co-therapists talk to each other about what they are observing in front of the family to remain connected and to evoke a response from the family.

Miracle Question: A miracle and the problem was solved. How would you know? What would be different? How will your husband know without your saying a word to him?

Utilizing client strengths-  ie. If a client has a gift for organizing, then ask the client to categorize things that occur when the complaint is not present

Scaling- provides numerical ratings to the state of affairs

Session Breaks

Giving Compliments

Session Tasks



Integrative Family Therapy views the family as a network of interrelated and interdependent parts. Individuals and systems want homeostatsis. When needs are left unsatisfied, the tension remains and the organism must find ways to return to the balanced state. Most alternative methods try to reduce tension rather than satisfy needs.  Integrative therapy blends family therapy with an intrapsychic approach (individual personality development).

Treatment Process

Stage 1: Structuring

States the parameters of the contractual relationship e.g. time, length

Encourages all members to attend so that info can be gathered

Elicits help and information from everyone

Makes contact with each person

Communicates trust, acceptance, and confidentiality to build rapport

Demonstrates the basics of systems thinking to begin the transition from linear to systemic thought and to destigmitize the identified patient

Stage 2: Observation and Assessment

Stage 3: Intervention

Presentation and discussion of the assessment card. Each goal on the card is discussed with the family and examples from previous sessions are used to illustrate each point.

Establishment of short-term and long-range goals to determine present and future interventions

Family and worker accept or modify the assessment card

The employment of therapeutic techniques to address the goals


Stage 4: Change Maintenance

Reinforce new behaviors and patterns of interaction.

Time is increased between sessions as therapist removes self from a central position in the family.

Stage 5: Termination is appropriate when family conflicts ate resolved in mutually satisfying ways, members are optimistic about future plans, some new behaviors, attitudes and communication processes have been internalized.

4-week intervals between sessions during this stage are the norm. Then the worker reviews the entire process and reinforces new behaviors and interaction patterns. Therapist checks each person’s feelings and attitudes toward changes, future goals are discussed and worker presents written and verbal feedback to the family concerning his/her perception of its therapeutic process.


Techniques include:

Tracking- immediate positive feedback that shows therapist is following what the client is saying.

Normalizing: When client assumes their response is the only logical thing, worker suggests that a lot of other people have done such and such. To help members be more flexible.

Assessment Card

Enactment:  Specific problem situations are enacted and discussed.

Therapeutic Gossiping

Confrontation: To help members communicate more accurately and effectively.

Communication Checks: Continually checking his or her perceptions of what has been said and encouraging members to do the same.

Help family define rules and roles

Family Meetings are encouraged. Eventually they can take the place of therapy.

Structural Wooden Blocks: Children’s blocks are used to represent individuals within the family, like sculpting.



Bowenian Theory- Murray Bowen


Structural Family Therapy- Salvador Minuchin

Boundaries, enactment, fmily mapping, family structure, joining/accommodating, marking boundaries, subsystems


Strategic Family Therapy- Jay Haley and Cloe Madanes

Alliances, coalitions, directives, hierarchy, metaphorical tasks, power, prescribing the symptom, pretend techniques


Milan Model of Family Systems


Adlerian Family Therapy


Narrative Family Therapy