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Vol 20, No 02, Article 06: PDF

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Extending the ‘Empty-Chair’ Technique to Couples Therapy

‘Chair-work’ (or the ‘empty-chair’ technique1) is considered an effective and creative clinical intervention by different models of psychotherapy, but, whilst it is mainly used in individual and group settings, it is less appreciated in couples’ psychotherapy.
The aim of this article is to show the usefulness of ‘chair-work’ in couples’ psychotherapy: and especially considering why and how to use this technique. We illustrate its application through some clinical examples that permit an exemplication of specic therapeutic steps and the empirical evidence of this technique. We introduce some applications of the ‘empty- chair’ technique that take into account some key dimensions of the structure and dynamics of the couples’ relationship, such as: the building of the relational identity based on the meanings shared by the partners; the self-expression of emotions, feelings and cognitions; and the relationship dynamics of the couples within their wider familial system.
The analysis allows us to observe that, in the relational clinical setting, it is important to integrate the aective and cognitive dimensions with the interpersonal context, because this integration can oer valuable opportunities for both emotional, cognitive diculties and the relationship dynamics that need to be addressed.
Key Words: chair-work, empty chair; two-chair dialogue; monodrama, experiential psychotherapy 

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