“It can be hard to verbalise”: What are the Experiences of Counsellors using Chairwork with Clients? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Citation: Alderman, A. (2023). “It can be hard to verbalise”: What are the Experiences of Counsellors using Chairwork with Clients? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
European Journal of Counselling Theory, Research and Practice, 7, 2, 1-11. https://ejctrap.nationalwellbeingservice.com/volumes/volume-7-2023/volume-7-article-2/
Processing dates: Submitted: 13 Feb 2023; Re-submitted: 10th July 2023; Accepted: 11th July 2023; Published: 26th September 2023
Objective: Chairwork is a transtheoretical psychotherapy technique proven to be an effective way to help facilitate emotional change by using physical chairs as props in roleplay. The present study is concerned with illuminating personal accounts and understanding the meaning-making of integrative practitioners using chairwork, single and two chair interventions with clients.
Methods: It does this using an ideographic approach of qualitative analysis of six one-to-one semi-structured interviews with an interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology from a critical realist stance to investigate individualised interpretations.
Results: The results identified four interrelated personal experiential themes: timing, embodiment, psychological impact and guiding attention.
Discussion: This study provides some unique insight into understanding the experiences of counsellors using chairwork with clients, highlighting that it can be challenging to talk about their experiences outside of supervision, what the factors are associated with the therapist’s decision to use experiential techniques, and how the use of self enables them to support their clients while they are facilitating.
Conclusions: The findings are effective in identifying that group self-reflective could be helpful for them to share and normalise their lived experiences. The findings also provide a starting point for future research on different client environments and settings. In conclusion, examining the unique experience of practitioners facilitating chairwork from
phenomenological ideas helps to understand the psychology of using chairwork.
Key words: chairwork, experiential techniques, integrative coaching counsellors, interpretative phenomenological analysis
Angie Alderman MSc, MBACP, AC Accredited is an Integrative Counsellor in coaching psychology
Contact: International Centre for Ecopsychology, 156 Westcome Hill, London SE3 7DH, UK