Angie Alderman

“It can be hard to verbalise”: Practitioner’s Experiences using Chairwork in Coaching

Angie Alderman

Introduction Chairwork is an experiential transtheoretical technique to help facilitate cognitive, emotional, and behavioural change by using physical chairs as props. The utilisation of chairs enables clients to change seats to speak from another voice and roleplay unresolved situations, events, and issues with others to gain perspective and create balance.

Objective With growing empirical evidence on chairwork, research primarily focuses on the client’s perspective. Doing so leaves the practitioner’s experiences less widely reported outside of a supervisory setting. This paper discusses the findings of a study undertaken to explore individualised practitioner accounts to understand this phenomenon.

Design/Methodology The research design used an ideographic approach of qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with an interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology from a critical realist stance.

Results This sample consists of five participant interviews, from which four interrelated themes emerged: timing, embodiment, psychological impact, and guiding attention.

Discussion This talk will provide insight into the meaning-making and psychology of chairwork in coaching for the practitioner. It will explore factors associated with their decision to use these experiential techniques, and how the use of self enables them to support their clients while they are in the facilitating role.

Keywords: coaching, chairwork, practitioner experience, experiential techniques.

Angie Alderman

As a Wellbeing Practitioner, Angie is a Coach and Fellow of the Association for Coaching. Her Masters in Integrative Counselling and Coaching and Advanced Diploma in Coaching have enabled her to support clients locally and globally as an Executive Management Coach, Integrative Counsellor, and Coach trainer. Her approach includes nature-based and experiential techniques to support business and performance behavioural change at individual and group levels.

With a background in live arts and media technology combined with her experiences, she recently worked on projects funded by BAFTA and The Fringe Society’s Honorary President, providing integrative coach-counselling support to performers and writers. She regularly facilitates Reflective Practice sessions, providing a safe listening space to think about the emotional labour of the work for employees at Genius Within, a social justice CIC, in addition to providing coaching and running master classes for organisations such as the NHS Coaching Academy and AstraZeneca’s empowerment programme. Angie is a founding member of Coaching for Unpaid Carers.

Keynote speaker events include The European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, News UK Diversity Summit, and The Chartered Governance Disability Conference. Her published credits include a pocketbook, 52 Little Tips on Big Ways to Improve Your Wellbeing, featuring weekly coaching tools and strategies to prevent burnout and overwhelm. Last Exit to Balham is a comedy coming-of-age novella that captures the modern-day obsessive pursuit of inner peace through all available media. A self-report case study: A Theatre of Nature – a personal experience of group forest therapy investigates the therapeutic effect from the perspective of the researcher-participant.

NB This invited paper has just been published.

Citation: Alderman, A. (2023). “It can be hard to verbalise”: What are the Experiences of Counsellors using Chairwork with Clients? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. European Journal of Counselling Theory, Research and Practice, 7, 2, 1-11.