Home PageBlogInspiring Moments with the Masters: Virginia Satir

By Jeffrey Zeig

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

I never met anyone who could make a human connection as intently as Virginia Satir. She did this when working with clients; she did it with her colleagues, and she did it when she was on stage. I remember one keynote that she offered in Phoenix at one of the Erickson Foundation conferences. People left the room marveling and commenting. Many said she was talking directly to them. I thought she was talking to me.

Virginia graced the podium of several Erickson Foundation meetings. She was someone who did not let the grass grow under her feet. At the 1985 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, she organized an evening session on world peace, which drew in a few thousand people. In her clinical work, she was a peerless improviser.

After the first Evolution conference. I had lunch with Virginia and my then-wife, Sherron. Virginia went through the faculty list, pointing out flaws in several faculty members. I was naive to these flaws, probably because I was often in awe of many of the faculty. Virginia left me with no illusions. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

Virginia was not so keen on Milton Erickson’s work. She found him to be too strategic and she felt that he was too manipulative. We talked about her connection with Bandler and Grinder. She was frustrated that she had not done more to help them.

I have some personal regret with Virginia. She promised me a family reconstruction, and when Virginia made a promise, she kept it. At that time, I did not realize what an honor it would be for me to receive family reconstruction from her. She called me around Thanksgiving the year before she died and asked that I fly to California for the therapy. I demurred, weighing the benefits and difficulties in juggling my schedule, which I now deeply regret.

After Virginia died in September of 1988, I was invited to several conferences held in her honor. I have kept in contact with the Satir network. Over the years, we continued to honor Virginia Satir at the Evolution Conference by inviting Maria Gomori, one of Virginia’s most talented students.

Virginia Satir was an exceptional therapist. The wizardry of her work will never be replicated. I distribute one of her workshops on my website: psychotherapyvideo.com. It demonstrates her unparalleled talent and expertise in family therapy and includes her most renowned techniques, including a Parts Party.


This excerpt has been extracted from Volume 41, Issue No. 1 of The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter.


Virginia Satir is one of the many brilliant masters featured in The Grandmasters Approaches to Psychotherapy Course. You can find more information and register for the upcoming level of the course here.

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