Shouting at Chairs

A lot of what we do in schema therapy seems to revolve around shouting at chairs. We’ve been doing this for a while in individual therapy and we’re just about to start in group as well.

The idea is to separate parts of your personality (in schema terms) from yourself. So you are sat in one chair and the therapist asks you to move to another and speak as your punitive parent. The therapist might then have words with that voice or ask you to move back to the original chair and talk to it yourself or as your vulnerable child, etc.

So it might go as follows:

Me in my vulnerdccb0eaf57d6bbff3b50bfda7a637a0aable child chair: “I’m scared and confused and I want comforting, don’t shout at me.”

Me in my PP chair: “Shh! You need me to stop yourself from being the bad person you are deep down. Don’t act needy, nobody likes you like that, it’s pathetic you don’t deserve to be upset.” And on it goes, causing feelings of guilt, self-destruction and inadequacy.

My therapist (or me if I’m in a stronger mood): “Nikki doesn’t need you, she’s not a bad person. It’s OK for her to have needs. You’re not helping, in fact, you cause her to act in ways that don’t sit right with her morals.”

So that’s the kind of role-playing we do. It makes me uncomfortable and sometimes I feel a bit silly talking to myself like that but it does help separate the thought processes and see how destructive and cruel the PP can be. Sometimes the things that come out of my mouth (often in a scared whisper) surprise me. Sometimes they upset me. I think on the whole I still tend to believe my PP more but I can see that it’s not helpful. When I hear my therapist fighting for me, I feel stronger and a sense of relief that I’m not alone in this. Together we’ve even got an image of a shield, silver and blue and covered in engravings of majestic wolves to protect me from the nasty words I throw at myself.


5 thoughts on “Shouting at Chairs

  1. I can’t bring myself to actually shout. I tend to mumble, even as my therapist suggests phrases. She sounds so protective and form when she speaks up for me though. It’s nice, but also evokes a painful sadness for me.


  2. She doesn’t have me play PP, (we keep that as an empty chair) because I’d feel like her words were attacking me if so. But I play Detached Protector often, I tend to slip into it even while playing Vulnerable Child.


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