Name of the Strategy or Intervention
Empty Chair Technique in Couple and Family Therapy.
The empty chair technique – also known as the two-chair technique – originated from the gestalt approach to therapy. Similar to other interventions that were developed from gestalt therapy, this technique was created to help resolve conflict in the present moment through increasing awareness (Fagan et al. 1974, Mann 2010). In this technique, awareness is increased by helping clients discover new aspects of their experience which they may have been avoiding (Greenberg and Rice 1997; Wagner-Moore 2004).
The empty chair technique was originally developed as part of gestalt therapy (Perls et al. 1951), which focuses on the present experience to assist clients in understanding what and how they perceive the situation (Mann 2010). This approach is based on what are known as the pillars of gestalt: field theory, phenomenology, and dialogue...
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Fagan, J., Lauver, D., Smith, S., Deloach, S., Katz, M., & Wood, E. (1974). Critical incidents in the empty chair. The Counseling Psychologist, 4, 33–42.
Greenberg, L. S. (1979). Resolving splits: Use of the two chair technique. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 16, 316–324.
Greenberg, L. S., & Rice, L. N. (1997). Humanistic approaches to psychotherapy. In P. L. Watchel & S. B. Messer (Eds.), Theories of psychotherapy: Origins and evolution (pp. 97–129). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Mann, D. (2010). Gestalt therapy: 100 key points and techniques. New York: Routledge.
Perls, F., Hefferline, R. F., & Goodman, P. (1951). Gestalt therapy: Excitement and growth in the human personality. New York: Gestalt Journal Press.
Wagner-Moore, L. E. (2004). Gestalt therapy: Past, present, theory, and research. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 41, 180–189.
Yontef, G. (1999). Awareness, dialogue and process: Preface to the 1998 German edition. The Gestalt Journal, 22, 9–20.
Editors and Affiliations
Section Editor information
© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this entry
Cite this entry
Smith, A.D., Quirk, K. (2019). Empty Chair Technique in Couple and Family Therapy. In: Lebow, J.L., Chambers, A.L., Breunlin, D.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_187
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-49423-4
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-49425-8