How Virginia Satir influenced NLP

Variations of Parts Party

Nandana Nielsen



The following article describes reinterpretation as NLP reframing. Reframing was described in the books of Bateson, Jackson, Haley and Weakland (1956) and Watzlawick et al. (1967) in communication research and therapy. Reframing means, among other things, to decide oneself about a meaning. Thereby a new frame is set around impressions, experiences or assessments, and to consider different choices in which the meaning takes on a different significance. In psychology, it is used in systemic therapy. Virginia Satir started it, (Moskau, G., 1992) Erickson enriched and enchanted it with his contributions in hypnotherapy (Haven, 2005), and in NLP reframing is an important field.

How do you deal with the “good intentions“ of internal parts? Virginia Satir had already developed her special way of setting this up as a “Parts Party” in the 1970s (Satir, 1978). In 1978, Leslie Cameron-Bandler developed the six-step reframing process out of this. She described it in detail in her book “Finding Together Again.“ Parts Party and Six-step-reframing inspire many people who are open to personal growth. They can discover the wonderful opportunities and potentials behind rejected behavior that are waiting for them to be discovered and lived. Parts Party can be conducted with one person and with many people.

Count your blessings, not your problems.
Never be afraid to try something new.
And remember,
ordinary people built the ark -
experts built the Titanic



1. Inspiration of a model

Virginia Satir, the brilliant woman founder of systemic family therapy, was one of the 3 models (Perls, Satir, Erickson) used for the development of NLP. Her approach of therapeutic work with families, couples and individuals, as well as her courses for psychologists, social workers, and other experts in the therapeutic field, were a great source of inspiration and insight for Bandler and Grinder (1975/1976). She had been working with families since the 1950s, which was completely against the therapeutic tradition, and offered in 1959 family therapy courses at the Mental Research Institute (MRI), in California, USA. MRI is one of the founding institutions of short-term and family therapy. It has been a leader for ideas in the field of interactional/systemic studies, psychotherapy, and family therapy. Throughout her life, she had a very alert mind, animated by helping families to become functional families. A “functional family“ is the Systemic Family Therapy term for a family where each family member can communicate his or her needs, is taken seriously, and where freedom is a great value in the family.

Bandler recorded Satir’s seminars between 1972 and 1974. At the beginning, he was 22 years old, Virginia Satir 56 years old and an experienced family therapist:

“As always, Bandler proved exceptionally talented at learning other people’s behaviour patterns quickly and effectively. He used a strategy he had used earlier in the musical field. When he wanted to learn the style of a musician he admired, he would listen to his recordings until he managed to identify with him to such an extent that he could imitate him reasonably accurately.” (Walker, 1996 – translated from German)

When he recorded her workshop, accompanied by his talent for intuitively understanding Virginia’s practice, he focused inwardly, and began to imitate her unconsciously. This way the following incident occurred:

“Throughout the seminar he (Bandler) was isolated in his recording room; there was only one microphone contact with the seminar room. He had a pair of two-channel headphones and was tuning the recording in one ear while listening to cassettes of Pink Floyd in the other. Last week Virginia had staged a counselling session and asked the participants what they would now do with it, drawing on the material she had taught them. Then participants seemed stuck. Richard stormed into the seminar room and successfully dealt with the problem. And Virginia said: “That’s exactly right.” Richard found himself in the strange position of knowing more about Virginia’s patterns than any of the participants, without having consciously tried to learn them.” (O’Connor, Seymour; 14th ed. 2004/1992– translated from German)

John Grinder’s gift of modelling some of Virginia Satir’s patterns from this natural talent of Richard Bandler, allowed him to make them explicit and thus captured parts of Virginia Satir’s approach.

In the 1970s Richard Bandler, John Grinder and Virginia Satir had a very productive time. In the book “Structure of Magic I”, published in 1975, Bandler and Grinder made a dedication to Virginia Satir, who gave them her intuitions about people and they passed on this view in this book. In the following book “Structure of Magic II” published in 1976, Virginia Satir was also the godmother for topics such as: Incongruities and Meta-Techniques, Family Therapy and other motifs. (Bandler, Grinder 2nd ed. 1984/1980) (Bandler, Grinder; 2nd ed. 1984/1982)

Bandler, Grinder and Satir learned from and with each other, were enthusiastic, and discovered many things on their common path. They supported people on their paths of consciousness, the development of their communication, and attention for their sense of self-esteem.

In 1976 the 3 authors: Virginia Satir, Richard Bandler and John Grinder published: “Talking with Families. Conversational Patterns and Therapeutic Change.” (Satir, Bandler, Grinder; 2nd ed. 1983/1978). Congruent communication, ideas for conflict resolution and feelings and caring within the family were impulses that were central to family therapy.


2. Resources from Virginia Satir

Satir conveyed her inner attitude towards people in her videos. In her sessions, she remains present, is very kinaesthetic, has a warm language, and a life-affirming attitude. She holds one of the client’s hands with her right hand and often invites the left hand to join it. People melt away. You can’t say that they are only listening. They are drawn to the strength and the aura of Virginia. They smile. This brings the whole family into a state of relaxation. When Satir works, they are all one system. (Video: Virginia Satir: “The Essence of Change”, 5.10.2021).

Satir was convinced that everyone can grow. That people are full of fear when changes arise and when they do not know how to reposition themselves. Satir had a Tao (Mitchell, 2006) orientated mind-set, like C.G. Jung (Alt, 1983), Alan Watts (Watts, et al. 1975), and Milton Erickson. This is the mind-set of the Eastern teachings of the Tao. She did not advocate the old form of psychotherapy where the therapist was the healer and the patient was the sick person. For her, both the therapist and the client were wounded healers. She had recognised that people want to develop and give strength to their souls. This woundedness, which accompanies us throughout our lives, consists of crises that do not need solutions. They heal through a change of meaning, inner wisdom and facing one’s thoughts. This is how the steps for change begin. It needs a life-affirming therapist and courageous clients. (Laura S. Dodson in: Moscow/Mueller; 1992)


3. Satir’s philosophy

What is her stability in her work? Among other things, she has an idea. She knows that people have learned a lot in their lives from their families. The “coping strategies” from families are no longer modern. Relationships, families, the dreams of young people require new “coping strategies”. Satir has an alert eye. Man is part of history. When he enters into a relationship after 20 or 30 years, the mechanisms for shaping this relationship cannot already have been learned. Then one learns new. What needs to be supported for a lifetime? It’s all about self-esteem, communication, the rules of the family, the whole system. Families often have destructive patterns of interaction that have to be developed more positively by the next generation. Virginia Satir was convinced that the learned patterns of interaction can be unlearned and that people strive to increase their self-esteem and they can develop productive patterns in their own family.

“When a human being lives more humanly: it is a person who understands, values and develops his body, finds it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and honest with himself, about himself and others; a person who is willing to take risks, to be creative, to be competent, to change when the situation demands it, to find ways to accommodate new and different things, to keep the part of the old that is useful after all and to discard the part that is not.” (Satir, Virginia: 13th ed., 1998/1975 - translated from German)

Satir was convinced that people can adapt to change. For her, change was permanent. Heraclitus said two and a half thousand years ago: "The only constant in life is change". We know this aphorism from NLP and again we encounter it in the attitude of Virginia Satir.

Satir's desire was to help people understand change and how important the ability to manage change was for a successful life. A successful life was linked to her growth model. A humanitarian model based on the ability of human beings to change, expand, and grow more and more internally.

Virginia Satir's growth model refers to self-esteem.

  • Self-esteem: this refers to the deep awareness of our self, the inward gaze and the possibilities of spiritual awareness.
  • Decision-making: to decide to reach a psychologically and physically healthy state.
  • Personal responsibility: once we know our self, we can take responsibility. This step is a big step in human development, it means that we can be responsible for ourselves and also for society.
  • Congruence: important aspects such as authenticity and sincerity should determine actions.

Developmental psychologists are experts on change processes in people's lives - the epigenetic blueprint. Unfortunately, family members do not learn the knowledge of developmental psychology. Basically, it's a good opportunity to teach it in schools to students.

Clare W. Graves was an American psychology professor at Union College in New York. He lived from 1914 - 1986 and developed his theory of the Graves Model in the 1950s. To our knowledge, it is a model that can be applied to both individuals and society.

The Graves Model is a diagnostic and intervention tool conceived for the development of the wonderful potential in individuals, groups, companies, organizations, and nations. It explains in the cultural history of humankind the classical changes in values, understanding, and behaviour. This change, which took place over thousands of years, has evolved even faster in the last 100 years. The Graves Model provides insight into the structure of this change and into ways of supporting peaceful change processes. It can be used as a tool for anticipating, supporting, and accompanying future human and social developments. It is fascinating that these processes can be found both on the micro level of socialisation of individuals and on the macro level of entire nations. In its core, the Graves Model states that specific value systems have developed as a reaction to certain living conditions, which control human understanding and behaviour as perception filters and explanation templates. As living conditions develop, so does interpersonal understanding and behaviour. It is as if on each Graves level a wider range of the infinite human potential is activated and made available for both the individuals as they increase their range of thinking options, their understanding, and courses of action, and humankind. The Graves Model deals with the development of the positive human potential on all levels. (Nielsen, K.; Nielsen, N.; 2005)

The Never Ending Quest

"At each stage of human existence, the adult man is off on his quest of his holy grail, the way of life he seeks by which to live. At his first level he is on a quest for automatic physiological satisfaction. At the second level he seeks a safe mode of living, and this is followed in turn, by a search for heroic status, for power and glory, by a search for ultimate peace; a search for material pleasure, a search for affectionate relations, a search for respect of self, and a search for peace in an incomprehensible world. And, when he finds he will not find that peace, he will be off on his ninth level quest. As he sets off on each quest, he believes he will find the answer to his existence. Yet, much to his surprise and much to his dismay, he finds at every stage that the solution to existence is not the solution he has come to find. Every stage he reaches leaves him disconcerted and perplexed. It is simply that as he solves one set of human problems, he finds a new set in their place. The quest he finds is never ending."
Dr. Clare W. Graves (

Satir hoped in her therapies to be close to people, in order to help them understand that they are learning beings who give meaning to their lives and skills that allowed them to grow beyond themselves.

At a speech in Germany on 18 May 1987, Virginia Satir gave a lecture entitled: "Therapy as a process of healing and learning".
This talk is very moving because she recounts the growth process of many years of her therapeutic approach. We understand at the same time that she had a very emancipatory approach and that she is full of love for people. She understands the small steps and she assumes that a therapist is totally attuned to the people who come to visit him/her. The client is a great person because he is an expression of life, unique, has similarities and differences with the therapist, and both can learn from each other.

"I see therapy as a learning experiment, and a learning experience" (Satir, 1989).

The learning context needs energy, an atmosphere of trust should be created because it is also about vulnerabilities and the offer to learn something new, to go through processes, is accepted. Learning shapes its therapy. Humans should become emotional, creative, and knowledgeable about themselves to deal with the changes that always come up. Therapy participates in life and teaches how to use impulses to actively deal with change.

She also sees therapy as a healing experience.

"My basic assumption is that each person has what he needs, but we humans often don't know that. ... All my good friends among medical practitioners remind me repeatedly by saying: "You, Virginia, you can also only offer your craft, but the energy sources in each individual person must bring forth the healing." This means that the therapist, by his being, opens up possibilities in the other. ... First of all the therapist needs be on the control tower to see the whole picture. Then he himself needs to be in touch with what is going on between him and each member; and thirdly, he needs to be in touch with what is going on within himself." (Satir, 1989)

Then she talks about "change". Can all people say what they want? That's what you have to learn, that's change! Change is difficult. E.g., quitting smoking or eating less. So many failures. Change is complicated. One can gain empathy to persevere through the difficulties in change. For change, we can change the status quo - BUT - that is hard. The status quo is familiar to us. We can sleepwalk with it; the new change is not as comfortable as the status quo and this uncomfortable presents us with obstacles.

"One of the most important things I have learned is that something pleasant has nowhere near as much power over us as something familiar that is known to us. Making us aware of this is one of the most important empathic messages." (Satir, 1989)

This is also part of her approach to change:

"I focus on the fact that I want to help a person become more whole and round. The underlying premise is this: If you are whole, you can be healthy; I make a very, very direct connection there and I didn't always know that. That is, everything I do, I do with the aim of really developing a high self-worth in each person. For me that is synonymous with developing that wholeness. In any person who has any symptom, the self-worth is very low. My analogy with the iceberg essentially implies that whatever is under the water that you don't see is the low self-worth. And that's what I'm working on." (Satir, 1989)

Then she talks about adults. In 1987, in California, there was a commission from the state to study self-esteem problems and the impact that these problems have on the personal and political responsibility of these people. Satir worked on this commission and she was convinced that it was a very good project.

Finally, she goes on to talk about families, which she considers to be the microcosm for the world. Many of the people who have children are not yet adults. They know the roles: Mother, father, child. They try to copy all that. The role models of women and men are usually not good ones. We should support those men and woman so that they can learn.

"... where there are no differences between the sexes: both are equal, valuable, human beings on an emotional level. If we accept this idea, we can begin to learn to look at differences without judging them. We can see that women's intelligence is just as good as men’s are, and that men also have the wonderful capacity to be tender and emotional. We may then respect the man as a person who can think and feel - rather than as a person who must think alone or do only heavy work." (Satir, 1989)

In the last 30 years, Virginia Satir had learned that she did not want to do adjustment therapy in the form of men showing consideration for women and women showing consideration for men. She inspired that the woman gets to know herself without comparing herself and that she notices that everything she feels, acts and perceives expresses a value that is hers and that the man gets to know himself without comparing himself and so that for both of them their own value, their own uniqueness, their resources and abilities belong to their self-image. In all those years she had learned that she could make room for trust, that the family members could grow because they themselves had the impulse to grow. That people had confidence that the learning experience with her would help them and therefore they could learn to manage their own lives in the long run without Virginia.

"When I approach someone now, I know very well they have the capacity to grow and I have to guide them step by step that they are able to do so. If the therapist knows from the start what is good for families, change will get stuck. The therapist is already limiting his possibilities for himself and the families. I am quite sure that therapy is about personal learning and growth, about helping each person to become more and more a whole and complete person, it is always about the process of moving towards something unknown." (Satir, 1989)

Virginia Satir had a similarity with Dr Graves with her concept of learning and growing to face unknowns. Both saw that in life search is never over. Because the world is turning and the only ingredient that is always there is change. And that it is also important for people to always go from one stage of development to the next. With all its difficulties, mistakes, rewards, new possibilities and new abilities - to understand life in such a way that it leads you through the stages of development, which are always new for everyone.

In order to learn new coping strategies, old role models have to fall. To realise that you were a child when you internalised your family’s belief systems is of essential relevancy. It is important to check what percentage of that is still true today. When a person becomes a shaman, he learns from another shaman all the wonderful secrets that shamans have been learning for ages. The ability to adapt to our permanently changing times is today a highly needed outstanding quality. Virginia Satir understood this Zeitgeist. She had been involved in working with families since the 1950s, always trying to learn things to improve her help. At the beginning of the 70s, she started with family sculpture. She taught the families who came to her that they should not work on their actual family, but that they should get to know their own family of origin. To realise that their parents were not demigods, but simply parents - who erred, who loved, who were euphoric, and desperate. (Satir et al.; 1995)


4. Re-interpretation (Reframing)

Satir had developed a model with the “Parts Party” that supports identification, transformation and integration of a person’s inner parts and resources. The reframing used in Parts Party was the basis for the 6-Step-Reframing in NLP: identify the problem, establish communication, explore the positive intention, activate the creative part, ecology check, and taking responsibility. Using the following link you can find the NLP cards with detailed instruction of the required steps of the 6-Step-Refaming technique. In the English power point it is in Card 30: “Six-Step Reframing” on slide 32:

Both models deal with the aspects of the unconscious parts, the positive intentions, and a behaviour that should be changed. This perspective is known as reframing - the inner experience gets a new meaning: the unconscious parts and the positive intention lead to a perception of resource orientation, which leads to a way for solution or growth. This reframing brings hope: I can do something that I recognise and approve of by focusing on my positive impulses.

What are the inner parts? In NLP, parts are personality parts that lead their own life and yet are connected to other parts of the system, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Parts have a task in the system and this task always has a positive intention. Parts are treated as persons in NLP. The part has its own will that it can use. The more the inner parts know each other, the more comfortable the person feels with the parts living under the skin.

What is the “positive intention”? The unconscious personality parts have a positive intention, and they have a positive function. In reframing, this working hypothesis, of positive intention, is introduced as a fact. In NLP, positive intention is often used in change techniques. Here one does not go into the negative aspects of the behaviour, but asks: “What is the positive intention of this part?”

For positive intention, you separate the behaviour from the identity of the person. Behaviour is about rules and norms and sanctions, positive and negative. Behaviour is about setting transparent boundaries and maintaining conditions that protect a social community.

At the identity level the core of the human being or soul is dignity, respect, mindfulness, gratitude, wisdom, and other values. They are not conditional, but a matter of decency and a part of democracy. A person should consider another person as “good”.

“Positive intention”, the attitude that people are good, is a basic attitude and also a belief system, in both NLP and in the Parts Party of Virginia Satir. This has more of a pragmatic character. Assume that people are all right, even if their behaviour is unusual. This attitude means that one increasingly has a relaxed communication with one’s fellow human beings and strives to keep one’s focus on goals, energies and constructive exchange. This is good for most people and brings them closer to “positive intentions”.


5. All parts form a unity

In our encounters with other people, we tend to do as if, what these people express is their complete person. We have no awareness of the fact, that people in different contexts always express only a part of their whole being. We have the tendency to think that one part is the whole.

Even when dealing with ourselves, we try to appear as a whole. This effort leads us to reject, deny or ignore certain parts of ourselves. We prefer to pay attention only to the parts we find pleasant. We try to live according to our values and hide from ourselves the parts that do not fit our values. We are not aware that these parts, many of our idiosyncrasies, can be transformed in many ways and have much to contribute to the fullness of our lives and that their integration makes our lives easier and more complete.

It is similar with the parts as it is with the weather. The weather doesn’t care if we like it. We won’t be able to change the weather, but we can change our reaction to it. Or, as Karl Valentin says: “I am happy when it rains, because when I am not happy, it rains too.”


6. All parts have resources

All our parts are resources and feed our desire to grow. Unfortunately, most of us label our different parts into two categories: the good and the bad. Parts that we reject and suppress we do not recognise in their potential and, more importantly, these parts cannot be hidden. The more we distance ourselves from them, the greater the “noise” they make to escape their predicament. As long as we belittle, hide, reject or deny parts of ourselves, we cannot fully and freely develop and use the energy, the potentials that are contained in them. We spend a lot of energy keeping rejected parts from showing themselves to the world instead of using that energy to explore and express the resource, the positive intention of that part.

We organise our inner parts to fit the image we want of ourselves, but not necessarily our inner wisdom. It is possible to change any part of ourselves at any time. This also applies to the parts we find unpleasant.

Our parts themselves strive for a harmonious wholeness that allows diversity, growth and wisdom. If we open ourselves to this process, exploring our parts rather than judging them, we can steer the direction of this process and enjoy the fullness of our possibilities in dealing with the world.

What prevents us from being interested in all our parts are our beliefs and the rules we have constructed from our life experiences. These rules of life determine how we relate to others, who we should be and who we should not be. They serve the positive intention of strengthening and stabilising our self-esteem. If, for example, we forbid ourselves to be angry, then this prohibition follows the idea that we ensure our survival while suppressing our anger. A goal that is positive in itself often leads to negative consequences.

In most cases, we have learned these rules and beliefs in childhood and from them we have drawn the conclusion of how to behave in order to be lovable. When we then start to hide parts that contradict our rules of life, we disconnect from our inner wisdom and often experience feelings of loneliness and emptiness. Or we live our anger and create the legitimacy that we are so authentic. This legitimisation structure also prevents us from finding the potential of this aspect, from transforming this part so that we can live its potential.

Only when we recognise all parts as belonging to us, only then can we become connected to our potential and thus have an excellent possibility to support our growth. We take an interest in all parts and develop a great awareness of our inner wealth.


7. Examples of the energy of rejected parts

In their undeveloped state, the energy of rejected parts is usually not very productive. Anger, hostility, jealousy contain potentially creative energy but not in their infantile form of expression. As soon as we find access to the creative potential, we open up to the full range of our life force and develop choices to be able to live the creative energy.

“For example, many of us pretend that our feelings of anger do not exist (“"I'm not really angry"). Such people probably do not realise that anger contains the basis of our self-confidence. If we deny our anger, we do not recognise or develop our capacity for self-assertion. Our rights are constantly violated and we feel incessantly angry without ever exploring the possibility of growing in a different direction and developing communication patterns that break this vicious cycle. ... And to make matters worse, our efforts are in vain: the parts we want to prevent from expressing themselves do eventually come out, and usually in particularly unpleasant and often destructive ways - usually in combination with emotional or physical pain, or both.

For example, unexpressed anger at another person can lead us to dislike ourselves and therefore treat ourselves badly. And when we meet someone who also denies anger, we may talk politely to that other person on the surface, while secretly fighting each other using the respective disowned parts.” (Virginia Satir et al.; 1995/1991 – translated from German edition)

"Hostility is a combination of helplessness, effort and projection of our pain onto others. If we persist in our hostility - "Isn't it terrible?" or "Poor me" or "It's all your fault!" - we hinder our development. When we transform the hostility a little, we find our capacity to be helpless. When this is also transformed, we find our ability to take things into our own hands. Hostility, after it is transformed, actually provides us with energy." (Virginia Satir et al.; 1995/1991 – translated from German edition)

"Similarly, we can also transform jealousy. If we leave it unchanged it makes us complain, "You have something I don't have and I hate you because you have it. Because I don't have it, I'm nothing, and that's not fair". When jealousy is transformed, it becomes the ability to see yourself in relationship with someone else for the sake of mutual growth, not for competitive reasons. This makes it possible to learn something from the other person, to discover that we have similar or different resources to be proud of, and even to share our resources with each other." (Virginia Satir et al.; 1995/1991 – translated from German edition)

Acknowledge parts
By accepting parts that we have previously perceived in a distorted way as they actually are, we can increasingly develop the wholeness of our being. In doing so, we open ourselves to the present and accept what is. Then the fear or panic that accompanies us when we ignore, distort or deny parts disappears and we reduce the stress that we have imposed on ourselves through this effort. Acknowledging all our parts supports us to live in the present reality and to deal with our rules and our inner wisdom. In doing so, we transcend our self-imposed limitations, expand our choices and increasingly live the unfolding of our potential. We become more and more like our true being!

In the recognition of rejected parts lies the first step towards change. Virginia Satir developed the “Parts Party” for this work, which leads to taking a holistic perspective in relation to all parts. This perspective helps to recognise that our self is a wholeness and that each part indispensably belongs to and helps to shape this wholeness. She herself states:

“If we only accept the “good”, “clean” and “right” parts of ourselves, this usually leads to us feeling dull, uninteresting and empty. We suppress a lot of potential energy. This distracts from our overall being, as each part is important to the whole and contributes to it being more powerful overall. Despite their specific function, each part is a hologram of our being. The parts are like the individual cells of our body, which contain both the specific message for their own special function and the entire genetic programme. Each of our parts contains the totality of our being. Conversely, this wholeness can also characterise all our parts once we integrate them.” (Virginia Satir et al.; 1995/1991 – translated from German edition)

Virginia Satir's "Parts Party" process is done in groups and it consists of the steps:

  • Acknowledge
  • Accept
  • Transform
  • Integrate

Neuro-linguistic Programming uses the concept of parts to explain the often-contradictory impulses we have for certain actions. One part of us desires to go forward while another wants to go back. NLP deals with this conflict through techniques such as reframing, parts integration, and various conductions of a Parts Party. In the Parts Party in NLP, the central aim is to create congruence or rapport with oneself, to appreciate the parts and to access the useful aspect of each part. When all the parts of a person cooperate with each other, there are no obstacles to acting and striving for outcomes that the person desires. There is a great freedom of choice, which in NLP means having the ability to respond to a situation with more than one emotion or behaviour.

NLP axioms and tools which go back to Virginia Satir and which are based on "the art of reinterpretation" are:

  • Reframing of behaviour (context, meaning)
  • Reframing of perceptions (change of perspective)
  • Concept of unconscious personality traits
  • Positive intention


8. Variations of the Parts Party Process

The aim of the Parts Party is to transform the relationship between the parts into a mutual cooperation.

The essential basic assumptions of Virginia Satir, in her work on the integration of multiple parts of a person, can be described in 3 statements:

  • The different parts of our personality are interconnected and interdependent. They form a unity.
  • All parts have resources.
  • Some parts we recognise and accept, some parts we reject, ignore or deny and some parts we are not aware of because they are asleep. It is not enough to awaken these parts, they need to be nurtured and actively used.

The parts model of NLP has its roots in the “Parts Party” from Virginia Satir. The concept of parts is used to explain the often-contradictory impulses we have for certain actions. One part of us desires to go forward while another wants to go back. NLP deals with such conflicts through techniques such as reframing, parts integration, and the “Parts Party”. In the “Parts Party” in NLP, the central aim is to create congruence or rapport with oneself, to appreciate the parts and to access the useful aspect of each part. When all the parts of a person cooperate with each other, there are no obstacles to acting and striving for outcomes that the person desires. There is a great freedom of choice, which in NLP means having the ability to respond to a situation with more than one emotion or behaviour.

The “Parts Party” has undergone changes again and again. This format inspires many trainers to develop it further for groups and individuals. Satir described it first in 1978 in her book “Your many faces”, where she wrote about her personal parts in a theatrical performance.

On the website of the International Association of NLP Institutes (IN): we describe step by step in the resource area the original “Parts Party” from Virgina Satir, the NLP version from Robert McDonald, the application for Systemische Strukturausfstellung (SySt) from Insa Sparrer, and the Social Panorama approach from Dr. Lucas Derks. The version from Insa Sparrer is how it can be used in Constellation. The approach from Dr. Lucas Derks allows to do constellation in the imaginary inner mental space very similar to the Constellation approach of Insa Sparrer, just without representatives in the outside so that all can be done inside the mind with NLP submodalities work.


Bandler, Grinder and Satir have the conviction that people want to evolve. Reframing is offered as a method for dealing with hurts, changes, the joys and sorrows that life offers, to give new meaning to the inner experience and to open up to inner growth and potential.

In reframing we are dealing with the hindering or limiting beliefs of a person. Beliefs are about rules, norms, and sanctions. They are about conditions, about setting transparent boundaries, and protecting a social community. Identity is about values. Dignity, mindfulness and respect are not conditional – these values have to be filled with meaning. Parts that are not integrated consume much more of our energy. There is great wisdom in accepting all the parts and following this process of our development. The unconscious parts and the positive intention, lead to a perception of resource orientation and thus a path is taken to resolution and growth. This is an offer to live more humanly.



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NLP, Parts Party, Reframing, Six-Step, Satir, Unconscious personality part, systems of all parts, changing disruptive behaviour, contacting the unconscious, positive intention, growth model


Short Biography

Co-founder and President of the international associations for NLP (IN), Coaching (ICI), Hypnosis (WHO), Constellation (WSCO), Mindfulness (In-Me), and Positive Psychology (PosPsy): (October 2021: more than 8.400 members from 91 countries)
Professor of the Psychology Faculty: “International School of Psychology’’ at Universidad Central de Nicaragua (UCN)
Holder of the World Certificate for Psychotherapy
“Coach Master Trainer, ICI”:
“NLP Master Trainer, IN”:

Nandana Nielsen
Germany, 10777 Berlin, Winterfeldtstr. 97


About the Author:

Nandana Nielsen

Last updated on 2022-03-20

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