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Empty Chair Gestalt Technique

The empty chair technique is a “method of facilitating the role-taking dialog between the patient and others or between parts of the patient’s personality… generally used in a group situation” (Patterson, 1986). This article highlights the empty chair gestalt technique through an 8-minute video demonstration, where the counselor role-plays with the client during a counseling session.

In this technique, two chairs are placed facing each other: one represents the patient or one aspect of the patient’s personality, and the other represents another person or the opposing part of the personality. As the patient alternates the role, he or she sits in one or the other chair. The therapist may simply observe as the dialog progresses or may instruct the patient when to change chairs, suggest sentences to say, call the patient’s attention to what has been said, or ask the patient to repeat or exaggerate words or actions.

In the process, emotions and conflicts are evoked, impasses may be brought about and resolved, and awareness and integration of polarities may develop – polarities or splits within the patient, between the patient and other persons, or between the patient’s wants and the social norms (Patterson, 1986).

Video Example: Empty Chair Gestalt Technique

Source: Gestalt Therapy CE Course

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