A Pilot Investigation of Emotion-Focused Two-Chair Dialogue Intervention for Self-Criticism

Ben Shahar*, Erica R. Carlin, David E. Engle, Jayanta Hegde, Ohad Szepsenwol, Hal Arkowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Self-criticism plays a key role in many psychological disorders and predicts poor outcome in psychotherapy. Yet, psychotherapy research directly targeting self-critical processes is limited. In this pilot study, we examined the efficacy of an emotion-focused intervention, the two-chair dialogue task, on self-criticism, self-compassion and the ability to self-reassure in times of stress, as well as on depressive and anxiety symptoms among nine self-critical clients. Results showed that the intervention was associated with significant increases in self-compassion and self-reassuring, and significant reductions in self-criticism, depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms. Effect sizes were medium to large, with most clients exhibiting low and non-clinical levels of symptomatology at the end of therapy, and maintaining gains over a 6-month follow-up period. Although preliminary, these finding suggest that emotion-focused chair work might be a promising intervention addressing self-criticism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)496-507
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion-Focused Therapy
  • Self-Compassion
  • Self-Criticism


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