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Fine Tuning Chair Work

3 online stream chapters by Remco van der Wijngaart

Chair work is a powerful experiential technique that enhances mode work within schema therapy. The approach, with its origins in Gestalt Therapy, is now a key feature of schema therapy work, and often noted by clients as a key element of change.

This Online Stream set aims to provide a solid foundation in skills for those that are beginning to use chair work within a Schema Therapy context. Furthermore, it provides more experienced schema therapists with examples of how to work with challenging and difficult situations frequently observed in clinical contexts. Additionally, several scenes demonstrate the use of chair work in other areas outside of schema therapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and within addiction treatment.

The Online Stream centres around two fictional characters: “Nicky” presenting with a borderline personality disorder and complex trauma background; and “Greg” presenting with chronic depression, alcohol abuse, and PTSD.

Chapter 1 – Shows chair work in various situations and contexts.

Chapter 2 – Shows challenging situations for therapists when using chair work, as well as ways to manage situations that would typically block the effective use of chair work.

Chapter 3 – Shows the use of Chair work within “specialist” areas. It also contains scenes showing common therapist pitfalls and mistakes when completing chair work.

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Fine Tuning Chair Work

Remco van der Wijngaart & Chris Hayes

Chair Work

  • Chair work- Showing a Client a Case Formulation
  • “Moding Out” a Recent Trigger
  • Using Gestures in Mode Work
  • Reasoning with Detached Protector Mode
  • Interviewing the Detached Protector- History and Function
  • Using Empathic Confrontation with The Overcompensation Mode
  • Therapist Reasoning with the Compliant Surrenderer
  • Therapist works with the “Punisher” Mode- Not Parent Focused
  • Therapist Works with the Punitive Parent Mode- Parent Focused
  • Client Confronts the Punitive Mode
  • Therapist Reasoning with the Demanding Parent
  • Using Chair Work to Re-Parent the Vulnerable Child Mode
  • Coaching Client’s Healthy Adult to re-parent their Vulnerable Child
  • Client Confronting a Parent About Abuse
  • Chair work to Manage Homework Avoidance

Chair Work- Challenges

  • Resistance to Chair Work
  • Resistance- I’m Not Moving- Therapist “Works Around” the Client
  • Therapist plays the Vulnerable Child Mode to Highlight Needs and Feelings
  • Detached Protector- “I have no Vulnerable Side”- “Contamination” of the Chairs
  • Helping Client Identify the Healthy Adult
  • Multiple Chairs; Bringing in Additional Chairs When Other Modes are Activated
  • Strengthening the Healthy Adult; Therapist Plays Coping Mode
  • Chair work- Pushing for Healthy Anger
  • When a Client Still Doesn’t Budge- “Not a Part of me, it’s all of me”
  • Working with the Self Aggrandiser Mode

Specialist Areas and Therapist Pitfalls

  • Drug and Alcohol Working with Punitive Parent Mode in Relapse
  • Alcohol Use and Decisional Balance, Motivation and Detached Protector
  • Decisional Balance- Leaving a Relationship
  • Chair work in an Axis I treatment (OCD example)
  • Grief Work- Saying Goodbye to a Loved One
  • Therapist Pitfalls- Chairs in Wrong Location, Lack of Therapist Strength
  • Therapist Pitfalls- Mode Work Done Wrong- Coping Mode
  • Therapist Pitfalls- Mode Work Done Wrong- Parent Mode
  • Therapist Pitfalls- Therapist Having Difficulties Differentiating Modes
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