Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

Resolving "unfinished business": Efficacy of experiential therapy using empty-chair dialogue

Gestalt psychotherapyResearchIndividual randomized controlled trials with big samples (n>30)English
Journal Article - Paid access


In this study, 34 clients with unresolved feelings related to a significant other were randomly assigned to either experiential therapy using a Gestalt empty-chair dialogue intervention or an attention placebo condition. The latter was a psychoeducational group offering information about "unfinished business." Treatment outcomes were evaluated before and after the treatment period in each condition and at 4 mo and 1 yr after the experiential therapy. Outcome instruments targeted general symptomatology, interpersonal distress, target complaints, unfinished business resolution, and perceptions of self and other in the unfinished business relationship. Results indicated that experiential therapy achieved clinically meaningful gains for most clients and significantly greater improvement than the psychoeducational group on all outcome measures. Treatment gains for the experiential therapy group were maintained at follow-up.

APA citation

Paivio, S. C., & Greenberg, L. S. (1995). Resolving "unfinished business": Efficacy of experiential therapy using empty-chair dialogue. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 63, 419-425.