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Empty Chair Technique in Couple and Family Therapy

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Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Empty Chair Technique in Couple and Family Therapy.


Two-chair technique


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).

Theoretical Framework

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...

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Correspondence to Amy D. Smith .

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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.

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