Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In which I failed to be Virginia Satir

Seriously anyone would fail to be her because there was only on Virginia Satir

Backstory: I am taking an Advanced Family Therapy class this semester; I adore systems models and gained a deep appreciation for Satir's work when I was last in graduate school (better known as My Expensive but Amazing Folly). In this class we work in group in class and do a group presentation, which was today. Right off the bad we had decided to not just talk about a model but also do a role play; as my agenda is to queer my classes whenever possible, I suggested a working class family with a gender non-conforming child. I no longer remember the first system we thought about using, but we ruled it out, then we were thinking of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, but when we heard another group was using that modality we dropped it. Someone offered up Experiential/Humanistic Therapy and we all jumped on.

Experiential Family Therapy is very much about recognizing and expressing your emotions by which you form better intimate bonds. Satir, in particular, operated from the position that we all want to be whole, authentic, and sensitive. She looked for healthy intentions no matter what people presented with. Another facet of this model is that the therapist role modeling authenticity, is warm and supportive, and is directive.

Our powerpo*nt part went fine, really great really but then it was time for our role play. I have no idea how this happens to me, but I was one of the co-therapist for this section. My goal, of course, was to model Satir's style more than Carl Whittaker - that was my colleague's role, who was known for being brutishly honest and provocative. Instead, I do not think I came across as warm, and I certainly was not hands on in the way Satir would have been (she would have moved her chair closer to the mom, maybe put her hand on her hands) while I gently suggested that perhaps she wasn't really angry at her child for being "different" but worried and afraid for the child. Unfortunately my colleague did not get all up in the father's face as we had talked about, but perhaps in the end it worked out okay. It will be interesting to see what the grade is for this adventure.

I have a client who bears a few slight similarities to the mother in our role play and I am certain I am more warm and humanistic therapist with her than I was in class today. At least I hope so! Being on display in front of the class, especially after another group did quite an impressive and comprehensive presentation on the Milan Family Therapy model may have dimmed my performance. 

No comments: