Workshop: Communication within the family - see life through a new lens

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Improve communications within your family

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Become aware of the power you have to reshape your life.

Learn why you repeatedly experience the same challenges in your professional and personal relationships.

Learn to transform anger, hurt, and fear into energy for a positive future.

See how family patterns through the generations impact your life now.

Come to an engaging and transformational weekend retreat for individuals and families based on the work of pioneer family-systems therapist Virginia Satir.  Learn tools for self-discovery, raising self-esteem, and relating to others.

What's it about?

This 2½-day weekend retreat will show you practical ways in a trusting environment to step away from past negative family patterns. Consider looking at life through a different pair of glasses, where you'll have the opportunity, at your choice, to listen, to watch, and to interact.  The retreat combines lecture and participatory exercises that will let you leave at the end of the weekend with new tools in your personal self-awareness tool chest.

The Satir Model, developed by family therapist Virginia Satir, has a way of helping people achieve the self-awareness and confidence necessary to make personal changes.  The retreat focuses on the origin of self-esteem and its essential role in how we view ourselves and others.   You'll discover that an examination of family histories can produce valuable insights into generational behaviour patterns that have affected your attitudes and beliefs from childhood.

You will be taught a range of life and communications skills that can equip you to create and handle change in all aspects of your life.

Move more easily toward your goals once you understand the Change Process.  Learn how it can let you see a life crisis as positive and healthy, not unnerving as we see it so many times.

Learn about your survival coping stances and how you can communicate congruently with another person.  When you communicate congruently, you will respect yourself and the other person more, you can increase both your self-esteem and the other person's, and you will have a greater chance of a positive outcome.

You're probably aware that we all have many layers, some of which we are more conscious than others.  We'll explore those layers using the metaphor of an Iceberg.  See how anger in and of itself is not bad—it's how it's expressed that can be the problem; anger can be a powerful, positive motivating force for change.  Finally, you'll be able to try Temperature Reading, a different way of running meetings (at home or at work) that ensures all get heard and improves participation.

Experience the Family Reconstruction that presents one person's family history over four generations.  From this, you will better understand how families work and how patterns repeat through the generations.  As you start to understand your own family patterns, you will have more choice in your life, you will see your parents and siblings with new understanding, and you will be able to choose to change your family patterns.

For whom is it?

People come to SLCO retreats from all of life's circumstances.  Whether you are prepared for a little change or a lot, you will find yourself among friends in a safe and supportive environment.  If you are at personal crossroads in terms of your job, at odds with a family member, recovering from an illness, experiencing grief or simply looking for new solutions in your life, this retreat will start you on or enhance your journey of self-discovery and change.

If you're a parent, you can learn different ways to be with your children.  If you're a therapist, you can learn new ways of working with your clients.  Learn how to see your parents on an equal footing as you.  Teachers use these techniques to more effectively communicate with their students.  And as a person, as we all are, you can use these lessons to change how you are in the world.

You'll find a mix of new people and people who've been to our retreats before, people who are part of our community.  As people gain a better understanding of themselves, many find it useful to return and view these concepts from their new place of understanding.

Virginia saw people as good at their core (often despite appearances) and with a desire to grow and learn and discover a deep source of high self-esteem, which can be tapped when you know where to look. With humour, respect for people of any walk of life or circumstance, and a sense of safety and confidentiality, she created retreat workshops for personal growth and transformation.  These retreats have continued in 34 countries since her death.

Our retreats are designed for both therapists and non-therapists.  Virginia was one of very few therapists to explicitly teach that the therapist-client relationship should not be hierarchical.  In fact, her Growth Model emphasizes that hierarchy is a key source of both low self-esteem and non-congruent communication.  She taught that congruence (honest but considerate communication in which what is conveyed on the outside matches the internal feelings and perceptions) comes from and enhances high self-esteem, and respects the other, oneself, and the context.  Thus, her retreats were open to therapists and non-therapists.  She believed that, for therapists to be effective, they must work on themselves and learn congruence.  The Satir Learning Centre follows this model and also has a built-in training programme for therapists.

What's the process?

Friday evening begins with introductions.  We then look at some basic beliefs, such as that we are all unique, we all have choices, and healthy human relationships are built on equality of value.  We compare hierarchical vs. growth views of the world and then look at the Change Process.  You'll then learn what Virginia Satir called the survival coping stances.  We'll explore our emotional layers using the metaphor of an Iceberg.  We'll finish the evening by showing you her self-esteem sculpt.  All of these techniques, or tools, are part of the Satir Model.

On Saturday, we'll start with a short meditation that will help you let the outside world fade away.  We'll then follow that with Temperature Reading.  We will then switch focus to the Family Reconstruction, where we'll spend most of the rest of our time during the weekend.  Here, you'll see how what was presented on Friday evening applies to one person's family over multiple generations.  You will likely find parts of this person's family history that resonate with your own.

On Sunday, we'll again start the day with a meditation and temperature reading.  After that, we'll return to the family reconstruction for the remainder of the day.

On both Saturday and Sunday, you'll have multiple opportunities to talk about what you've learned, either in the group as a whole or in small groups.

The process is designed to cater to both your heart and your mind, your feeling and your thinking.  You'll experience what it's like to be in a warm, loving, and open community during the weekend, where care and respect for one another is paramount.

A full lunch will be provided both Saturday and Sunday.  During the breaks, snacks will be available, including a wide variety of beverages.

If this is your first time at one of our workshops, you may find, at the beginning of the weekend, that you're thinking that there's a lot of information being presented to you.  You're not alone:  many people who have come to these workshops have felt that way.  As the weekend progresses, you'll start to see the threads connecting these concepts.  By the end of the weekend, most people have found that they have begun to see a whole new way of living.

How much do I have to participate?

Don’t worry!  This is not a show and tell.  We know that many people are nervous about groups.  Be assured that, as a participant, you need say nothing about yourself in the group—you learn vicariously through learning about the tools and through the re-creation of one person's family history.  You can remain an observer.  You will work with two other people whom you choose.  In the larger group, you can choose to volunteer if you want to say something further.  At all times, you choose what you say.

A key philosophy is that we are responsible for ourselves, and that includes the right to say yes or no.


Please avoid wearing perfume and cologne, as some people are highly allergic.

Dates and Times / Location

The Satir Learning Centre of Ottawa, on the banks of the Jock RiverWorkshop dates:  Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, 29 April to 1 May 2011
Registration deadline for early bird price: Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Workshop registration and check-in:  Friday (6:30 PM), Saturday (8:30 AM), Sunday (8:45 AM)
Workshop times:  Friday evening (7:00 PM to 10:00 PM), Saturday (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM), and Sunday (9:00 AM to about 6:00 PM).  The workshop will start promptly at these times each day.
Reconnect:  We recommend that you attend the follow-up meeting on Monday, 9 May 2011, from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM.  There is no cost for this additional meeting.

Both the weekend workshop and the Wednesday follow-up meeting will be held at the Ottawa Satir Retreat Centre (details) on the banks of the Jock River at the south end of Barrhaven.

Printable fliers and poster

We have a flier about the retreat  that you can print.  You might find this useful if you have a friend or family member whom you think might be interested in the workshop and who prefers printed material.  Alternatively, if you know of places (such as doctors' offices, beauty salons, community centres, etc.) that would have clients who might be interested, we would be happy to have you place fliers in these locations.

We also have a poster  that can be placed in various venues.  If you will be visiting a place where one of our posters might be useful, we invite you to put it up.