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Reopening the Dialogue:

Chair Work and Imaginal Dialogues in Grief Therapy

Duration:  6 hours (two 3-hour modules)



In meaning-focused grief therapy, accessing and reconstructing the terms of attachment to the deceased is a central process in grieving, both to reaffirm constructive bonds in a sustainable, non-physical form, and to resolve unfinished business in bonds that are more problematic or ambivalent.  Facilitating symbolic dialogues with the dead using the related techniques of imaginal dialogue in onsite or online interventions or chair work in face-to-face work with grieving clients can promote both of these aims. 


This workshop introduces principles of imaginal dialogue and illustrates them through clinical videos with an adult daughter grieving the loss of a father, parents mourning a young adult daughter’s suicide, and a full-session demonstration of its use with a bereaved son, which will be thoroughly processed in interaction with workshop participants.  In combination, the engagement with these actual cases extend emotion-focused procedures to promote not only activation and resolution of the continuing bond, but also its fuller integration through an alternation between self-immersive and self-distancing perspectives.  Subsequent video vignettes will illustrate further variations on these procedures, such as internalized other interviewing, in which the therapist interacts with the “deceased”, who is given voice through the client’s enactment of the loved one’s perspective. Participants will benefit from hands-on practice with this method in a practicum component that follows the formal instruction.


Learning objectives:


  • Recognize process markers of when chair work is called for in a therapeutic session with a bereaved client

  • Summarize the procedures involved in introducing, facilitating and processing of symbolic interactions with the deceased

  • Describe techniques for prompting client “witnessing” of the interaction and tailoring it to use safely in cases when the deceased has profoundly abused, neglected or abandoned the client

  • Adapt imaginal dialogues for use in both in-office and telehealth settings

Professional Trainings

The Austin Center for Grief & Loss offers professional trainings, including workshops and consultations in the field of grief, loss, and trauma.  These events are held in our training facility as well as off-site locations.  CEU's are available to mental health professionals who attend our events. Trainings are customized for faith-based, mental health, medical, staffing, corporate and educational personnel who seek assistance in working with persons who are grieving or traumatized. 


Contact us for more information: or 512.472.7878.