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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5770
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate. Sorry to ask you another question but I desperately need

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Kate. Sorry to ask you another question but I desperately need some answers before I can consider doing what my therapist is suggesting.

As I have issues with my brother she is suggesting that I imagine him sitting in an empty chair and I talk to him. I'm not sure that I understand how this will resolve anything?

Where would my therapist sit whilst this is being done? Because of the level of fear I have towards my brother I would want her somewhere very near to me so that I feel safe. Is that possible or does she have to be neutral and therefore sit between us?

If I am asking him questions then how will I get any answers? Am I meant to answer for him? Do I literally keep swapping seats or can I stay seated in the same place throughout?

Does this really work?

Sorry there are so many questions!

Sue
Hi Sue!

I understand what your therapist is doing. It's called Empty Chair work and it is part of the Gestalt therapy theory . The idea behind it is to allow you to express your feelings to your brother so you can experience your feelings more fully. It helps if you do the full technique by changing chairs so you can not only get in touch with how you feel towards your brother, but what you might imagine he feels towards you. That helps you understand better what your feelings are about him and how your experience has affected your impression of him.

Your therapist should sit nearby to help guide you and to deal with any strong feelings that come up for you during the exercise. She should not sit between you because that would distract you from "seeing" your brother in the chair as you should.

If you decide to ask your brother questions instead of just talking to him about how you feel, or you do a combination of both, then switching chairs is the best way to get the answers you are looking for.

This technique does work for most people. There are some that do not find it helpful, just as with any technique. But it can be very helpful in getting you in touch with the feelings you have about your brother in a safe and secure environment with your therapist there for support and assistance.

Let me know how it works for you. I hope you find it very helpful!

Kate
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