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School to develop Satir growth model certification and summer training program

The School of Social Work has received a $100,000 private donation to develop a certification program and a summer training that embrace the teachings of the late Virginia Satir, a social worker and “pioneer of family therapy.”

The money will also be used to support research into the efficacy of the Satir method and to fund the hiring of a part-time coordinator to help develop and maintain the program curricula and promote the summer institute. Jean McLendon and Regina Ragan, both licensed clinical social workers with Satir Systems in Chapel Hill, will assist the School in developing this new program and institute.

The Satir practice model proposes a family communication paradigm, which was developed in the 1960s, and focuses on self-awareness and the discovery of inner strengths to help individuals, couples, and families better cope with stress and change and ways to create more positive relationships with others.

“The idea is to recognize and maximize the humanness in everybody and then to help those people build on those strengths,” said School of Social Work Dean Jack M. Richman. “Today, the concepts of the Satirian model of intervention are being used by businesses and in therapy and private practices all over the globe because so many find it very empowering and motivating.”

As proposed, McLendon and Ragan would develop and teach a 7-week master’s level course on the Satir model next spring and then help launch a summer training institute in July 2015. The two- to three-week institute could attract participants from all over the world.

Richman said he is particularly excited about the research piece of the project. Although the Satir model has garnered lots of supporters, more evidence and data is needed to show that the approach is successful, he said. “If it’s worth teaching, then it’s worth researching,” Richman said.

If all goes well, including the research, the School will likely explore the idea of endowing the program down the road, he added.

Satir Clinical Program website