empty chair exercise

by poppy
(UK)

Hi at the moment i am going to therapy for childhood sexual abuse . My therapist suggested I do the empty chair exercise to talk to my mother as although the abuse was by my brother,I always felt like she didnt love me or care for me. my therapist says i was neglected as a child and doing this exercise might help me. Ive tried to do this exercise on my own, being the vunerable child and saying everything i wanted to say to my mother which was very emotional and a relief for me. then i swapped chairs and became my mother and said all the things to that child that i wanted my mother to say to me and temporarily it worked and made me feel better.But me saying those things to myself didnt hold much power .My therapist suggested that we do this together and at first she said we should do some role play and she become my mother but then she changed her mind and said it might be to confusing for me. The thing is thats what i want her to do, say all those nice things to me that my mother should of(almost reparenting me)it didnt hold much power when i said them to the child and i think it will help if she did it but im not sure how to ask her. I feel embarassed to ask her. I dont want her or see her as my mother i just need that voice to say those things to me. Im not sure whether this sounds crazy or not or whether this is the right way to do this exercise but i really need to get this right first time as we coming to the end of our sessions together. I want to talk to the empty chair first and imagine my mother and say the things i need to say( with my therapist not sitting in the empty chair)and then for her to take the role of my mother and say what i need to hear from her. But will my therapist understand what i want her to do without me explaining in great detail and becoming totally embarassed. How do I ask her to do this for me? or is this an unreasonable request? Hope you can help.


Ben's Answer:

Just do it!

There is nothing to be embarrassed about here when it comes to telling your therapist what you want. As long as you are both clear about the purpose of this exercise, I don't think that this would be confusing. It could be a very powerful thing to do with her in therapy. If your therapist is already doing empty chair work with you, then there is absolutely no reason why she would not understand exactly what you are asking for.

Time is short! Tell her what you want from her.

Good Luck,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist











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