Gestalt Therapy Approach

While Gestalt theory may have been created three quarters of a century ago, its premise and approach have far reaching benefits, and at The Bridge to Recovery, we utilize it to this day because it works.

According to Gestalt theory, a person cannot be fully understood without understanding the context of his or her experiences.

At The Bridge to Recovery, we also find that it is extremely helpful to understand the context of your trauma before you can heal from it. Gestalt Therapy, utilizing creative and experiential techniques enhances our awareness of our experiences.

Empty Chair Work

When we experience trauma, it creates pain, and we carry that pain until we do something to expel it from our minds. We cannot heal from the trauma if we are still carrying such pain.

Sometimes the person(s) responsible for, or involved in our trauma is not accessible for us to express these feelings to. This can occur for a number of reasons:

  • They are deceased.
  • You no longer have a relationship with them.
  • They cannot be located.
  • The relationship is so volatile that it would be unsafe to be around them.
  • Either party is unwilling to see the other.

This could be a major hurdle in our healing journey, however Empty Chair Work gives us the opportunity needed to identify, understand, and unburden ourselves of those emotions.

What is the Empty Chair technique?

This Gestalt technique is an exercise in which you share, express, and unburden a story, letter, or feelings as if you were talking directly to that person involved. 

This technique is beneficial in a number of ways, including:


We are able to physically express our anger, rage, hurt, fear, frustration, etc., in a safe way, without further fear of how the other person could/would react or behave.  


Emotions that develop from trauma are many, and this technique allows us to identify and understand what those are, including:

  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Hurt
  • Frustration
  • Fatigue/Burden
  • Shame
  • Confusion
  • Emotional Paralyzation 

And much more.

Carrying these emotions with us throughout our life is toxic, causing us continued emotional stress and havoc. This technique gives us a very beneficial outlet for expression.

Relational Communication

Issues with someone in your immediate family system may be one that you need to address those issues with, but it is not healthy for you to do so directly. This technique allows you to communicate those issues and emotions while still maintaining your healthy distance.

Communication Skills

It is common for our communication skills to be severely impacted by trauma for the following reasons:

  • Trauma keeps us in a state of fight or flight, causing us to communicate defensively at times when it is unhelpful.
  • We react and communicate based on our trapped emotions rather than methods that serve us in a healthy manner.
  • Our boundaries are violated and lost when we experience trauma, thus we learn to verbalize in a defensive manner rather than ask for what we need.

This technique helps us learn to verbalize and express our emotions, regain boundaries that were lost, and effectively communicate what we need(ed). This is helpful for future communication skills.

Empty Chair Work can be antiquated, intimidating, and may even seem silly for some. However, at The Bridge to Recovery we continue to find that this tool is extremely beneficial when used in combination with other methods.  

Many clients report that participating in these types of exercises were some of their most impactful moments.

To learn more about our program, we invite you to reach out to us. Healing is possible. Happiness is possible.