A brief description of the Open Chair

If two business partners  are having a dispute with one and other over a business issue; and they not talking to each other,
they may become angrier and more distant with time.
They may become suspicious of each conjure irrational ideas about each other,while all the time more polarized.

How to remedy this?
The two sit down and talk to each other…. and open a dialog.
This means one person talks honestly other while the other listens, taking turns, a dialog. this may need a neutral mediator to guide the communication.
To get two polarized sides of  partnership back together… they talk.
The two business partners may resolve their differences.
The may agree to part ways or return to work together as one whole.
They may learn a little more about each other during the dialog.

Gestalt Therapy has one basic technique known as the “Open Chair “(Also called the “Empty chair”)
The open chair in the therapy session is a chance to give a voice to two polarized parts of ones self when one is feeling conflicted,torn or ambivalent on a subject.

One may feel ambivalent over a major life choice.
One may feel ambivalent with a family member.
(part of me feels… and part of me feels)
One may have hidden polarity hidden by strong feelings
(part of me says:”I hate Arthritis” vs. the hidden part : me with Arthritis)

“Open Chair’s” purpose  is in having e a client take the role of each polarized “part” of himself on a conflict  and get the two “parts” to talk with each other…. Just like the business partners in the example above.

The focus and critique of open chair session   is on the process and experience of the dialog
not the content.

The Gestalt therapist plays the role of the mediator.
The open chair technique, originated by Fritz Perls has many variations.
It is best to learn this technique and gestalt therapy   with an experienced therapist.

However, The open chair can be used very successfully in creative Journaling and self therapy….

….next post: experimenting with creative journaling.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

4 Responses to A brief description of the Open Chair

  1. tmethief says:

    What a good description of Open-Chair technique. Roleplaying is a very valuable revelatory process, and learning how to be an active listener ought to be taught in schools. Being aware and mindful helps us to center and speak from our hearts. First Nations “talking circles” are also very valuable and I’ve been in Open Spaces gatherings where we used the “Talking Chair” technique. Are you aware of it too?

  2. chris says:

    Thanks for your comment tmethief.
    In what use to be called “work shops” or basically Gestalt based group-therapy, many variations of the “open chair” or “empty chair” existed and are still used.

    I am not familiar with the “Talking Chair” technique.

  3. Pingback: Grief , the Empty Chair and Journaling | Pennsylvania Echoes

  4. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    Empty Chair; two Chair ; or open chair–
    malleable approach for getting to parts of something in opposition to communicate.

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