|By Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP|
"When Mr. Eastwood set up a chair next to the podium and used it in an imaginary dialogue with the president, I recognized it as a technique from psychodrama — the psychotherapy my father, the psychiatrist J. L. Moreno, started developing nearly 100 years ago," he writes. "Therapists often use the 'empty chair; as a way of orienting a patient to a particular relationship. “Here’s your mom,” they might say. “What would you say to her if she were here, right now?” The empty chair can be a very powerful warm-up to a problematic situation, a way of concretizing dormant, suppressed or abstract emotions in an important or troubling relationship. Used properly, it can lead to insight."
The value of Empty Chair work is in the opportunity to assume the role of the person we imagine in that seat. It is in the role-reversal - another brilliant technique devised by J.L Moreno - that a deeper truth can emerge. "Mr. Eastwood wasted an important educational and therapeutic moment from which our deadlocked political system could benefit," writes Moreno, "putting himself in the role of the other person of whom he is critical and coming to understand that person’s point of view 'from inside.'"
Nick Wolff, LCSW, BCD is a Trainer, Educator, and Practitioner of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. His weekly training group in Psychodrama and action methods resumes on Wednesday Sept. 26 7-9 p.m. To join this group call Nick at 631-366-4265. This training is approved for Continuing Education by the NY State Office of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Services.