Temperature Reading

By Dale H. Emery and Judy Bamberger.


Temperature Reading is an activity by which a group can receive and respond to information about how it is functioning. This activity was designed by Virginia Satir.


A Temperature reading consists of five parts, each part offering group members an opportunity to express themselves within a specific theme:

For many groups, these themes often go unspoken, though they are part of group life. One of the benefits of Temperature Reading is that people come to understand that it is okay for them to express appreciation, to have questions about things they don’t understand, to voice complaints, and to speak about their wishes.

The parts of a Temperature Reading are conducted in order, allowing everyone an opportunity to speak about each theme before moving on to the next. Speakers come to the front of the room one at a time to speak, and return to their seats when finished. Participation in any part is voluntary. Not everyone will have something to say about each theme.

A Temperature Reading begins with Appreciations, in which each group member may express appreciation for something done by another person.

The Puzzles theme gives group members an opportunity to talk about something they are confused about, or to ask for information they need from others. (Answers, of anyone has them, are held until New Information, below.)

The next theme is Complaints with Recommendations. Complaints are often solutions in disguise. In each complaint there is a hidden hope that things can be better. The person with the complaint is saying, “the situation would be better if …”, but may be able to verbalize the complaint only as a negative. The purpose of requesting complaints is to hear the issue; it does not mean corrective action is required.

The New Information theme is a time for group members to share important information that others may not know about. Also, at this time people may wish to offer answers to others’ Puzzles, or to offer possible solutions to Complaints.

The Temperature Reading ends on a positive, forward-looking note with Hopes and Wishes. Group members have an opportunity to express what they would like to have happen, both for themselves and for the group. Each person gains some additional insight into others, and may choose to support others in attaining their hopes and wishes.

Who is Involved

Before Doing This



Doing This

Guidelines for the Facilitator

Guidelines for Participants

When giving Appreciations:

When giving Complaints with Recommendations:

After Doing This

Other Ideas

Related Activities


Satir, Virginia. The New Peoplemaking (pp 289-292). Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, 1988. ISBN: 0-8314-0070-6.

Satir, Virginia; John Banmen; Jane Gerber; and Maria Gomori. The Satir Model. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, 1991. ISBN: 0-8314-0078-1.

Zahnd, Walter. Temperature Reading. Unpublished paper.