The Empty Chair
AKA the Empty Chair Therapy
Gestalt Therapy utilizes an empty chair to give a client a safe way to express previously unspoken feelings and emotions.
Developed by Fritz Perlz. Laura Perlz. Miriam and Erving Polster.
Stress is on placed on awareness and integration of the functioning of body and mind. The intention is to expand a person’s awareness of the present moment.
Gestalt therapy has developed over time and is currently supportive, accepting, empathetic, respectful, and challenging. It is an holistic approach to the personality in the present moment.
• During therapy, the client is encouraged to bring out hidden feelings.
• Much use is made of the ‘open chair’ technique.
• This is when the client sits opposite an empty chair and then mentally places into that chair someone significant, who has caused him or her pain or trouble.
• The client then tells the ‘person’ in the empty chair what they have been unable to express before.
• Sometimes the client is encouraged to swap chairs and to answer his own claims or accusations from the other person’s perspective.
• This technique can give rise to emotional scenes, and the previously buried emotions need to be handled carefully.
A news story was reported in Minnesota last October (2015), that covered the success of the P.E.A.S.E. (Peers Enjoying A Sober Education) Academy for the last twenty-five years as a recovery high school. This successful school exemplifies specific design worthy of repeating.
Recovery High School
- Recovery – All of the students enter the school after signing an agreement to be clean and sober, as do their parents. If they ever test positive, then they and their parents agree that they will have to leave the school. If that occurs, they try alternate methods to help with recovery.
- Addiction – Often, the students come after the beginning of the school year. Many parents have tried alternative methods and believe that once school starts, their kids will be motivated and stay clean. Unfortunately, the peer pressure is too great for many of them. Removing them from their school, neighborhoods and other places where they had access to their drug of choice, will help them conquer their addiction.
- Support – The recovery school provides group meetings, small classrooms, a personal CD (chemical counselor) and other methods of support that facilitate their recovery.
PEASE Academy Recovery High School also helps students gain entrance into a local college that provides mentors for them when they graduate high school.
This article also covers other recovery high schools. Recovery High Schools address the various and complex needs of all their students. The larger schools may be able to provide newer technology and more opportunities such as sports and arts, but they do not give the majority of students what they need most which, in my opinion, is the deep seeded need to be seen, heard and cared for.
We need to find a way to spread the good news of these recovery schools so that every student in jeopardy during recovery can have the same change to a new and better life.
Steiner, A. (2014, October 22). P.E.A.S.E. Academy: 25 years of keeping adolescents in school and off drugs. Retrieved from http://www.minnpost.com/mental-health-addiction/2014/10/pease-academy-25-years-keeping-adolescents-school-and-drugs