As we travel through life, we inevitably experience unresolved issues. These issues can cause conscious and unconscious havoc with our physical, spiritual, and mental health. For example, relationships can deteriorate, binge-eating can occur, inappropriate use of drugs and alcohol can develop, as well as other self-harming behaviors can take place.
The resolution of these destructive behaviors may need to be addressed with professional assistance to resolve. Professional assistance can be indicated when these destructive behaviors increase, when we run into legal problems because of them and when we just stop functioning with everyday responsibilities.
In this week’s, The ZONE, we will focus on one technique that has been derived from the Gestalt Therapy technique called the “empty chair”.
As a psychotherapist, I used the “empty chair” technique numerous times with various clients. The goal of this technique, developed by Dr. Fritz Perls, is to assist the client to integrate the various parts of themselves into a personal awareness. Basically, if someone is having difficulty with a boss, a family member or other issues that are causing discomfort, he or she faces an empty chair. The next step is being asked to imagine that other person is in the chair or the issue they are dealing with is represented by the chair. The individual is then encouraged to say whatever comes to mind to the person or issue in the “empty chair.” The individual is encouraged to have a total sharing with the “other person or issue.” Then, the individual switches and occupies the empty chair and faces the chair she or he was just occupying. Here is where an individual starts to have a conversation back to themselves. Sometimes answering his or her own questions can result in greater understating of self and others or greater insights into the issues that are being confronted. As one can imagine, this technique needs to be facilitated with a trained therapist.
On the other hand, if professional assistance does not seem to be warranted, we recommended a derivation of the “empty chair” technique, by using a writing or drawing journal to confront the issue or person that one is struggling with. Writing down or drawing out thoughts and feelings, to better understand them more deeply, can open ideas and possibilities that we may not have been previously aware of. Our journaling would also include us becoming the other person or issue and writing down or drawing what we are feeling and experiencing.
By using this process, to confront issues and individuals, it can allow us to reveal our private thoughts and feelings without judgments from others. Reflecting on the ongoing dialogue between parts of yourself can be healing and offer growth.
Unresolved issues need to be addressed
Sometimes professional assistance is needed.
Inner dialogue can be very healing
By using the modified “empty chair” technique, on a regular basis, we can gain greater personal awareness on many levels.
Here is a link to professional services if needed: Mental Health America.. Mental Health America
Pay attention to potentially destructive behavior you may be displaying.
Things to Limit
Letting unresolved issues fester for too long.
Eating your feelings.
Dwelling on the past.
Quote of the Week
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
~Viktor E. Frankl
Confronting unresolved issues, while being a painful process that takes time and resolve, possesses benefits and outcomes that can be so freeing. Increased trust, performance, overall effectiveness, and general happiness are all possible results that can impact your entire life.
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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