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Since March is National Women’s History Month, this is an excellent time to acknowledge the contributions of the psychotherapist Virginia Satir.
She was an influential therapist during her lifetime, especially in family therapy, and not just because she was six feet tall before putting on heels.
"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family," said Satir.
Satir (1916-1988) was the oldest of five children. Her parents, Oscar and Minnie Pagenkopf, owned a farm near Milwaukee. Virginia demonstrated her intelligence early on, teaching herself to read by age three. The family moved to Milwaukee so Virginia could attend high school. She graduated in 1932 at the ripe old age of sixteen and then worked part time while going to college.
As a therapist in private practice, Satir eventually began meeting with families. She started working with the Illinois Psychiatric Institute by the mid 1950s and was already recommending other therapists counsel families as well. After moving to California, she became one of the founders of the MRI or Mental Research Institute located in Palo Alto. MRI was the first place to offer formal training in the art of family therapy.
Satir was also known for her comic wit and her poetic nature. This is from her poem I Am Me.
I can become intimately acquainted with me - by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts - I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know - but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me
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