What is Family Reconstruction?
Reconstruction is an experiential telling and retelling of a life story done primarily in a group setting that impacts all the people present. Virginia Satir, a humanistic family systems therapist, author, and teacher invented the term Family Reconstruction. She is considered one of the top one hundred women of the twentieth century. She did so much, but she always worked from a wellness model rather than a diagnostic one. She believed all people were capable of change and growth.
Satir Classic Family reconstruction:
Preparation: Chronology beginning with the birth of the oldest grandparent through the star’s adolescence, a Family tree and a wheel of inﬂuence. The star met with Virginia three times to form a bond of trust.
The reconstruction could last from six hours to three days and was done with a group of fifteen to two hundred participants.
Modalities: Sculpture sociometry Role play Teaching Reframing Family Rules Forgivness Sharon Cruse, came from the ﬁeld of addiction in early treatment days at the Johnson Institute. She specialized in the needs of the families of alcoholics. She was Virginia’s protege and friend. She believed more dysfunctional families created more need for healing. She added more emotional work, props and music.
Sharon’s Classic Reconstruction:
Preparation: Chronology from birth to current time for the star Life story told in a workbook “Understanding Me” Descriptions of all family members Family tree including patterns of disfunction An interview with the star lasting about six hours
A classic Cruse reconstruction lasted from ten to fourteen hours.
Modalities in addition to Satir’s: Interpersonal relationships A Support System called Family of Choice Angels Current family picture Family Roles Fun and happy family times Celebrations of overcoming or successes Deeper emotional expression The disease model and progression of the disease Less generational work but it was always included Aftercare Other forms 9(and there are many) include:
Mini reconstructions on one time period or theme. Reconstructions combined with other modalities two and a half day reconstruction workshop Reconstructions done without a retreat setting Groups doing the prep work for reconstruction and experiential therapy Inter agency groups.
Most others reﬂect the interests and strengths of the guide All forms of reconstruction have in common these strengths:
Interpersonal Relationships Somatic Experiencing Theatric elements
But most methods have these strengths:
Looking at one’s life with adult eyes. A chance to grieve and have all the feelings repressed in childhood. The ability to put the past behind. Accumulative work. The progression of patterns and themes are possible to develop over time. Context, both historical, familial and cultural can be presented. Shame reduction and self esteem building always happen. Forgiveness and the understanding to see parents as people instead of their role. Decision making.