Clinical Counsellor

Archive for June, 2013

The Satir Model

Virginia Satir’s therapy model is based on the premise that change is possible and that we all have the internal resources we need to cope successfully and to grow. Thus, she believes that the person is not the problem, but rather, coping is the problem. Accordingly, therapy focuses on improving how an individual copes rather than solving problems.
Similarly, she states that feelings belong to the individual, and therefore we can learn to change them, manage them, and enjoy them. Furthermore, individuals have decisions in the way that they react, cope, and are. Therefore, Satir states that individuals choose their actions. For example, an individual chooses to be agitated. So, since feelings belong to us and we choose our actions, we can also choose to and learn to react in a positive manner.
Satir also believed that partners tend to repeat the familiar patterns from their childhood, even if these patterns are dysfunctional. It follows then that it is important to know a person’s origin and family, in order to better understand their current behaviours and possible problems. Similarly, Satir posits that the first caregivers an individual has will affect them dramatically.
Also in childhood, individuals learn certain stances. These may have benefited from them during their childhood, but they no longer need them. However, often individuals continue to use these stances and it is in therapy that they can be addressed. These four stances are being super reasonable, irrelevant, placating and blaming.
This is also a great book to better understand Satir’s model of therapy. It can also help individuals to understand themselves and how Satir views change, prior to or in conjunction to therapy.

Satir, V. M., Banment, J., Gerber, J., & Gomori, M. (1991). The Satir model: Family therapy and beyond. Palto Alto, CA: Science & Behavior Books.


‘Hold Me Tight’ By Dr. Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson’s emotionally focused therapy focuses on attachment theory. She believes that the drive to emotionally attach to another individual is a primary need that all humans possess. Also, an individual’s family of origin is where attachment originates. More specifically, it is during childhood when individuals are faced with developing trust or mistrust. This is resolved when their needs are met by their caregivers and as a result, they are able to trust others in the future. However, when an individual’s attachment is uncertain, they can do a lot of different things in a relationship, most of which do not benefit the partnership.

Accordingly, individuals who are securely attached are comfortable with closeness and can rely on others. This also makes them less angry and easier to get along with. Ultimately, Johnson believes that having a secure attachment to another person is empowering. For example, this person can provide feedback and this can help their partner.

Ultimately, Johnson states that rejection and exclusion are equal to physical pain. Thus, when we are excluded and rejected, it is very painful. Conversely, having a positive connection with other people helps us to cope and deal effectively with stress. Johnson also believes that therapists can teach individuals these skills, to be less abrasive for example, in order to have more friends.

Also, she believes that most arguments are protests against emotional disconnection. It follows then that, a potential loss of a partner leads to primal fear and panic. Thus, Johnson believes that individuals are literally fighting for their lives, in order to keep their partner.

I recommend this book for both couples and single individuals because it provides helpful insights into understanding relationships and our human need for relationships. I hope that you also enjoy reading this book as much as I did.

Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. NY: Little, Brown & Co.


For Youth

Here is a very helpful website for youth provided by the Vancouver Crisis Centre. They have great information on many topics related to youth. I recommend this for youth and parents.

I also highly recommend their chat service. Although telephone counselling is also available at the Crisis Centre, this website allows individuals to talk to someone via instant messaging, which is often more appealing to teenagers and young adults.