History of Chairwork

Chairwork, or imaginal psychotherapeutic dialogues, was a technique that was created by Dr. Jacob Moreno, the creator of Psychodrama. In this tradition, it was called Monodrama.

It was further developed, however, through its use by Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Perls, one of the founders of Gestalt Therapy. Dr. Perls first studied with Dr. Moreno in New York in the 1950’s; he would later become famous for his use of this therapeutic approach during his years at the Esalen Institute during the 1960’s. Actual transcripts of his sessions can be found in his book, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim.

Over time, many therapists from both within and outside the Gestalt tradition have also been inspired by Perls’ work and have adapted chairwork to fit their own vision of therapy and change. These include such figures as: Claudio Naranjo, MD; Robert Goulding, MD, and Mary Goulding, MSW; Leslie Greenberg, PhD; Marvin Goldfried, PhD; and Jeffrey Young, PhD.

Transformational Chairwork seeks to build upon the best of this rich legacy to create an effective and clinically-informed way of healing patients.