Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

A. Pascual-Leone

Second Advisor


Third Advisor



Chairwork, Emotional processing, Empty-chair, Meta-analysis, Psychotherapy outcome, Two-chair



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Purpose: The present study aims to examine (1) the unique effects of chairwork on emotional process and distal outcomes across treatments in the context of individual psychotherapy, and (2) how these effects compare to those of other treatment interventions. Method: Based on the appropriateness of the data available, non-parametric within-group meta-analyses, parametric between-group meta-analyses, and narrative syntheses were conducted. Study 1: Noticeable improvements in resolution (d = 1.20) and symptom change (d = .96) are shown to emerge after a single-session of chairwork. Symptom change becomes increasingly more pronounced in multisession treatments (d = 1.42). Meanwhile, improvements in self-compassion/esteem seem to be less clear. Study 2: Single session chairwork were found to be more effective in deepening client experiencing (g = .88) and sequential transformation, but similarly effective in facilitating emotional arousal as other interventions. Improvements in resolution and symptom change after a single session of chairwork may be comparable to other interventions (g = -.02). However, when chairwork was used over multiple sessions, it accumulates a meaningful effect (g = .39) compared to treatments that did not use chairwork, with therapeutic orientation emerging as a potential moderator. Additional Syntheses: Notwithstanding its evocative nature, clients identify many components of chairwork as helpful in creating therapeutic change. Furthermore, the use of physical chairs offers a slight advantage in therapeutic gains but is not imperative for the intervention. Meanwhile the imaginal component of chairwork was identified as a crucial role in emotional processing. Conclusion: Incorporating chairwork into single-session and multisession treatments may bolster process and distal outcomes.

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