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Empty Chair Question

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by Noro2020, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. Noro2020


    Aug 9, 2017
    Hi all. I am a little confused about the empty chair technique and possibly techniques in general. My professor told me as I was practicing it, in class with another student, that if I initiate the technique, I was to use it the entire session. This didn't seem correct to me. If it is, is this indicative of all techniques?
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  3. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2015
    As far as I know, it takes however long it needs to take, and leave time to process the exercise at the end.
    As a side note, 2-chair / empty chair technique should be used with extreme caution due to its potential to bring up very strong emotions/reactions (esp. with a history of trauma), so I hope your professor is training students in it extensively and not superficially. Trainees should not be using such a risky technique without proper training.
    Salvador likes this.
  4. CuriousMunchkin


    Sep 6, 2017
    You're professor is incorrect. Some LCSWs and MFTs will implement Empty Chair as part of their brief-solution focused therapy to wrap up the final process and prepare for the next counseling session to help encourage clients to gain insight and to give the person something to think about and discuss the next time he/she meets with the therapist. There are no rigid rules to incorporating exercises, so long as the client is not harmed in the process.
  5. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2015
    Many interventions from different theories are fine to learn superficially, but ones that have potential for intense emotional reactions/expression aren't appropriate for superficial use and are on the border of being outside the bounds of therapist competence without proper training.

    "If you plan to practice Gestalt therapy (i.e. Empty Chair/2-Chair), we strongly advise that you pursue advanced training....Getting caught up in the excitement of pushing clients toward change and emotional breakthroughs commonly associated with Gestalt therapy (as illustrated via many of Fritz Perls' stage demonstrations) can result in unnecessary negative outcomes." ---Sommers Flanagan & Sommers Flanagan, Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context & Practice

    I agree that clients shouldn't be harmed in the process, which is why it should be used with caution and proper training. Trauma, suicidality/severe depression, self-harm, and psychosis are just some issues in which this type of intervention would be dangerous and harmful to use with, but proper training would provide the right level of judgment as to when to use it/not use it and safe guidance through the process for appropriate clients. I've heard of an individual experiencing full on panic attacks/flashbacks after this intervention with an improperly-trained therapist who then had no idea what to do to calm the client down. While this is an extreme example, it serves as a cautionary tale not to practice outside of the bounds of competence.
    Therapist4Chnge likes this.
  6. scorpions


    Dec 29, 2016
    "It takes however long it needs to take, and leave time to process the exercise at the end."--- I believe so.

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