Sculpture (family therapy)

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Sculpture or family sculpture is a method developed by Virginia Satir in the 1970s in family therapy , for experiencing representation and therapeutic work on family relationships.


Presentation of the situation

Family work

The real family members position themselves in relation to one another in the form of a human sculpture, adopting physical postures to one another that characterize the relationships between the family members. Characteristic words as well as gestures and facial expressions of the individual performing participants support the dramaturgical illustration of the relationship.

This triggers feelings and thoughts in the performers that seem symptomatic of real family relationships. At the same time, language-based defense mechanisms are bypassed. Following the intuition of the therapist or the performer and the emotional flow of "the family", the sculpture can be developed dynamically. In the further course of the process, family therapy methods are used . Depending on the task, the focus is on understanding and gaining knowledge (diagnostics), development and solution, or healing and therapy.


Sculpture work is used in family therapy. As a family reconstruction , it is also used when working in groups in which individuals want to work on their family dynamics. It is part of the training of family therapists .

All three variants of Virginia Satir ( family sculpture , family reconstruction, parts party ) have (in contrast to the family constellation ) the character of role-playing games ( extensive information and instructions are given before implementation ).

Family reconstruction

Family reconstruction is another variant developed by Virginia Satir. This is not about sculpture in the narrow sense, but a mixture of it with psychodrama and gestalt therapy . The client changes himself to different roles from his family's history and experiences different as well as traumatic or significant events that happened to relatives in the past. This can be accompanied by a change of perspective and attitude for the client.

Parts Party (Inner Parts)

Parts Party is a third method developed by Virginia Satir, with which the client takes a closer look at his inner personality parts. He learns to better understand internal contradictions, how they affect the outside world and what this has to do with his family history. The aim is to be able to better control one's inner parts and to shape one's relationships better.

At the parts party, the client selects several group participants who playfully take on individual inner parts and characteristics of the client and express them in the form of impromptu theater . The different parts come into contact with each other and an impressive picture of the client's inner landscape is created.

The method of six step reframing in neurolinguistic programming (NLP) , which was developed in the 1970s, is based on reframing and the concept of parts party .


  • Satir, Virginia: Self-Esteem and Communication (1975) ISBN 3-7904-0164-1
  • William F. Nerin: Family Reconstruction in Action. Virginia Satir's Method in Practice , Paderborn 1989, ISBN 3873872978

Individual evidence

  1. Freda Eidmann: Trauma in Context. Integrative constellation work in trauma therapy. Göttingen 2009, p. 114.
  2. Freda Eidmann: Trauma in Context. Integrative constellation work in trauma therapy. Göttingen 2009, p. 113.
  3. Alexa Mohl: The great sorcerer's apprentice. Part 2. Paderborn 2006, p. 33 f.
  4. Alexa Mohl: The great sorcerer's apprentice. Part 2. Paderborn 2006, p. 34 f.
  5. ^ Nils Greve: Reframing. In: Techniques of Psychotherapy. A cross-method compendium. Stuttgart 2013, p. 101 f.