The Virginia Satir Model: Advancing Jewish-Arab Partnerships and Understanding


The Satir Group at the Ramle Open House

The Virginia Satir Model: A�Advancing Jewish-Arab Partnerships and Understanding

Facilitated by Tali Aharony and Gila Cohen, clinical psychologists and family and relationship counselors.

The Satir model was developed as a tool for family therapy and is centered on the belief that the individual can change (STST a�� Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy). The Ramle Open House, a community center for co-existence, uses this model to advance partnerships and understanding between the citya��s Jewish and Arab residents.

The workshop outlined the modela��s tenets, which participants applied through a group exercise. Two aspects of the model are especially relevant to groups in conflict.

  1. Establishing and strengthening onea��s sense of self-worth: Vital individuals are much better equipped to cope with the world without resorting to survival or reactionary mechanisms. Self-worth is also related to the belief that all people are equal, regardless of their origin, class, or gender.
  2. The iceberg as a metaphor for expanding self-awareness, developing tolerance and acceptance, and resolving conflicts. The individuala��s inner world is seen as an iceberg a�� most of which is submerged and not visible. The metaphor serves as a roadmap for exploring our complex inner worlds.

Among other things, conflicts cause the individual to adopt a narrow and one-sided viewpoint. Using the iceberg metaphor, we gain skills for breaking free of restrictions and seeing the picture in its entirety, while experiencing the a�?othera��sa�? viewpoints, feelings, and expectations.

Resolving conflicts is accomplished through acceptance, not arguing or negation. Acceptance is rooted in listening sensitively and precisely to what the a�?othera�? wants. Human wants are universal, and they are always positive and legitimate. The listener is invited to accept both themselves and the a�?other.a�? As a result, what seemed impossible is now possible a�� including seemingly intractable conflicts. Applied worldwide, the Satir Model has proven effective at creating and improving communication, raising self-esteem, and broadening acceptance of onea��s inner self and the a�?othera�? as a way for coping with difference.

Over the last two years, the Ramle Open House has worked to apply these principles in a pilot program with Jewish and Arab facilitators.